1164: Jacked-up Joe

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 50m
August 15th, 2019
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Executive Producers: Sir Gier, Sir Felix Wilson, Sir Matt of the Zeta Reticuli Star System

Associate Executive Producers: Harvey Smith, Andrew Wilson

Cover Artist: Irritable

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
0:33
6 Police Officers Shot During Standoff in Philadelphia
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6:38
Increasing Reports of Dogs Dying From Blue-Green Algae
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14:23
15th Anniversary of Daily Source Code Podcast
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15:52
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne Claims Having Documents Uncovering the Greatest Political Scandal in US History
Woodstock
21:30
Jeffrey Epstein
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44:13
Conspiracy Theories
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54:27
Donny Deutsch's Message to White People on Trump
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1:00:15
The War on Encryption
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1:07:08
Vermont Public Radio's Eye on the Sky Weather Forecasts
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1:08:31
Polar Blast Hits South-East Australia
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1:09:16
Greta Thunberg Sets Sail Across The Ocean
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1:12:30
CNN Host Chris Cuomo Threatens Man Who Calls Him 'Fredo'
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1:17:40
CNN Host Don Lemon Sued for Sexual Harassment Allegations
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1:19:28
Credits
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1:30:51
'NCIS' TV Show's Showrunner Gary Glasberg
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1:34:45
Project Veritas: 'Google "Machine Learning Fairness" Whistleblower Goes Public'
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1:53:36
Algae-Powered Cars
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1:55:45
Beyond Meat IPO
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1:57:49
Untitled
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2:01:40
Homeless
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2:07:30
Donations
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2:15:29
Birthdays & Title Changes
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2:16:09
Meetups
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2:21:28
Experimental Ebola Outbreak Treatments Dramatically Boost Survival Rates
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2:27:09
The Libertarian Institute: 'Prescription For Violence: The Corresponding Rise of Antidepressants, SSRIs & Mass Shootings'
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2:31:04
Captagon Drug Use in Saudi Arabia
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2:34:40
NA's Coverage of Tardive Diskenesia on Episode 201
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2:37:20
Vogue: 'Can Stacey Abrams Save American Democracy?'
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2:39:51
2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren's 2% Wealth Tax
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2:42:39
End of Show Clips
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2:44:40
Journal of Travel Research: 'Emotional Journey of a Digital Detox While Traveling'
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2:47:09
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Jon Hunstman resigns as Ambassador to Russia amid rumors of run for governor - CBS News
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 18:51
As the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Russia remain icy, Jon Huntsman has resigned from his role as the top U.S.diplomat in the country, CBS News has confirmed.
The Salt Lake Tribune first reported news of Huntsman departure. According to the paper, Huntsman may also be mulling a run for Governor of Utah, a post he held from 2005 to 2009, when President Obama made him Ambassador to China.
Huntsman reportedly sent his resignation letter to the president Tuesday morning and plans to move back to his home state sometime in October. The State Department confirmed details of the Tribune's reporting with regard to Huntsman's resignation.
A Republican, Huntsman was Ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush. He was also a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, eventually losing the nomination to his Mitt Romney, who is now a U.S. Senator from Utah.
Romney and Huntsman, both scions of exceptionally wealthy Mormon families with an eye toward politics, have a long and complicated relationship. Their rivalry deepened when Romney was chosen over Huntsman to lead the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2008, Huntsman endorsed John McCain over Romney in that year's Republican presidential primary.
Huntsman latest stint as a diplomat came at a rocky time for U.S.-Russia relations. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to benefit President Trump. While disputing some of the findings of his own intelligence community, Mr. Trump had reluctantly imposed sanctions on Russia while at the same time maintaining a chummy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia and the U.S. have also been on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, with Moscow intervening militarily to prop up its ally Bashar al-Assad. Russia has also maintained close ties with major U.S. rivals, such as Iran and China.
In a statement from the State Department, the agency told CBS: "We thank Ambassador Huntsman for his service and his efforts to advance the Trump Administration's policies in Russia.
Huntsman, for the most part, is largely seen as a relatively moderate conservative.
Christina Ruffini contributed reporting.
Letter: Huntsman was wise to resign as ambassador to Russia - The Salt Lake Tribune
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 18:52
I read the Aug. 6 Salt Lake Tribune article: ''Jon Huntsman resigns as U.S. Ambassador to Russia to return to Utah for possible run for governor.'' I think it was a smart move on Huntsman's part to resign as ambassador, which will be effective as of Oct. 3, for a variety of reasons.
The first, and most obvious, reason is another possible run for Utah governor. However, there are a myriad of other logical reasons for resigning now.
Diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States are almost akin to ''walking on eggshells.'' Huntsman probably wants to avoid the political fallout of this unseemly tightrope, whereby it is impossible to ''please'' everybody.
Additionally, the presidential election of 2020 is bound to re-open old scars of the 2016 race and the convoluted accusations of "interference" by Russia will remain, and Huntsman is rightfully dodging a bullet, so he won't be caught in the crossfire of reporters.
There are many opportunities for Jon Huntsman in Utah. He's wise to keep his options open, whether his future be in the public or private sector.
James A. Marples, Provo
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Jeffrey Epstein met with Bill Gates years after financier served jail time
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 13:58
Bill Gates
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Microsoft founder Bill Gates spoke more than once with Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier accused of child sex trafficking, to discuss ways to increase philanthropic spending, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Epstein's discussions with Gates included at least one meeting, which took place in New York in 2013, while Gates was still Microsoft's chairman, these people said. It was unclear whether the two also spoke on the phone.
The discussions with Gates occurred years after Epstein served a 13-month sentence for a charge of soliciting an underage prostitute. Epstein was sentenced in 2008 in Palm Beach County.
The revelation is another piece of the rapidly growing mosaic depicting Epstein's bizarre, confounding influence and ability to get into powerful circles. Gates' interaction with Epstein is puzzling because the former Microsoft CEO is one of the richest and most influential people in the world. Gates could get philanthropic advice from anyone, and yet he corresponded with Epstein, whose transgressions were well known at the time.
Gates resigned as Microsoft's CEO in 2000, stepped away from a day-to-day role there in 2008, and served as the company's chairman until February 2014. He remains on the board.
Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, died at age 66 over the weekend in an apparent jailhouse suicide weeks after the wealthy financier was arrested on federal charges of child sex trafficking.
The people with knowledge of the matter did not know the exact details of what was discussed at these meetings, except to say that they focused on "growing philanthropy" on a broader scale and that there were other philanthropic leaders in attendance. Gates never committed to helping Epstein with his own nonprofit organizations. Eventually, the Microsoft founder ceased communication with the disgraced financier.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in 2000, has at least $32 billion in assets, according to the organization's 2017 tax filing. The foundation says it works to "ensure that all people '-- especially those with the fewest resources '-- can access the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life."
Gates has a net worth of over $100 billion, according to Forbes.
After the meeting in New York six years ago, Gates flew on one of Epstein's planes to meet with his family in Palm Beach, the people added. He did not, they noted, fly on the so-called "Lolita Express," which was allegedly used to transport underage girls to Epstein's home in the Virgin Islands. The Daily Mail first reported on Gates using the plane in March of that year, citing flight records.
A spokeswoman for Gates did not deny that the former Microsoft CEO met with Epstein. But she said that Epstein did not perform official financial advisory work for Gates.
"Epstein never provided tax, estate or services of any kind to Bill Gates," the representative said.
A spokesperson for Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.
People who knew Epstein said he would tell associates that he did spend time with Gates '-- and that he acted as an informal advisor to him.
Titans of Industry Join Forces To Work for Jewish Philanthropy - WSJ
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 11:27
When movie mogul Steven Spielberg, Seagram Chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr. and former hedge-fund manager Michael Steinhardt met at Mr. Steinhardt's Manhattan apartment last month, the main topic was neither films nor high finance but considerably more complex than either: being Jewish.
The three men, among others, were convened for a meeting of the "Study Group," also known informally as the "Mega Group," a loosely organized club of 20 of the nation's wealthiest and most influential Jewish businessmen. Formed seven years ago by Leslie Wexner, chairman of Limited Inc. and Charles Bronfman, Edgar's brother and Seagram Co. cochairman, the group meets twice a year for two days of seminars on topics related to philanthropy and Jewishness. At the April meeting, Mr. Spielberg spoke about his personal religious journey, and then the group discussed Jewish summer camps.
Big ChallengesThe Study Group represents some of the nation's most successful executives trying to apply their skills to the world of Jewish philanthropy as it wrestles with big challenges. As the Holocaust recedes in time, if not memory, and Israel becomes a more ambiguous symbol, American Jews are losing some major reasons to identify themselves as Jews. Today, some estimates put the intermarriage rate at nearly 50%.
And as Jewish identification declines, so does giving. At the United Jewish Appeal's UJA Federation-New York, donations have been flat this decade, hovering around $250 million a year, in spite of the booming economy and the increasing wealth of the donor pool.
The Study Group's members want to take a more entrepreneurial and strategic approach to giving-learning from one another, contributing to one another's causes, launching projects together. "You meet people who are of like mind," says Charles Schusterman, chairman of Samson Investment Co. of Tulsa, Okla., and a Study Group member. "It gives us an opportunity to develop partnerships."
There are similar groups in Judaism as well as other faiths, but few are from the business world's highest ranks -- and few keep such a low profile. The Study Group's meetings are private, and it doesn't publicly release its membership list. Among the members: Harvey "Bud" Meyerhoff, a retired Baltimore-area real-estate developer; Leonard Abramson, founder of U.S. Healthcare Inc.; Lester Crown, a Chicago billionaire and part owner of the Chicago Bulls; Laurence Tisch, chairman of Loews Corp. ; Max Fisher, Detroit financier; and bagel tycoon Marvin Lender.
New members must be recommended by existing members of the group. Mr. Spielberg was a guest at the April meeting, but members say he is considering joining.
Several members declined to discuss the group, and others didn't return phone calls. "We don't want to be seen as the Sanhedrin," says Charles Bronfman, referring to the highest court of the ancient Jews to explain the group's aversion to publicity. "We don't want to be looked at crooked." Furthermore, he says, the group doesn't want to open the door to all kinds of solicitations. Charles Bronfman worries that people will say, "All these hot shots sitting there, let's go schnorr them."
No ThreatAnother reason advanced by members for the Study Group's low profile: It doesn't want to look as if it is rebelling against or distancing itself from the UJA Federation system, for decades the backbone of American Jewish philanthropy. "From the beginning, we didn't want to be seen as a threat to anybody," Charles Bronfman says. "And that still pertains." Indeed, the idea for the Study Group originally came from a UJA executive, and the group requires that members contribute to their local UJA.
In working to solve the current crisis, the group is conscious of image: "We want to make it cool to be Jewish," says Edgar Bronfman, whose company's keen sense of image has made it one of the world's most successful marketers.
The Study Group moved from discussion to action about four years ago, when Hillel, the Jewish organization on college campuses, needed refinancing. A small group of members agreed to make a $1.3 million combined annual donation over five years. Last year, six Study Group members put up $1.5 million each to help Mr. Steinhardt launch the $18 million Partnership for Jewish Education, a foundation that makes matching grants to Jewish day schools. Currently, Charles Bronfman and Mr. Steinhardt are working on the nascent Birthright Project, which will help send "any young Jew born on this planet" to Israel who wants to go, Mr. Steinhardt says.
Such efforts sometimes fall short of expectations. Three years ago, the Bronfman Foundation started the Bronfman Curriculum Initiative to help private high schools teach Jewish ethics and philosophy. The Taft School, an elite boarding school in Connecticut, taught a course from the Bronfman initiative last year, but "there wasn't a lot of response," says school chaplain Michael Spencer.
This year, Taft isn't offering the course. But Mr. Spencer says he hopes to incorporate some components of the course into general-interest subjects such as philosophy and ethics.
Pricey DuesThough mostly informal, Study Group meetings have a certain protocol. Each meeting begins with dinner and a speaker at someone's house or at a hotel on a Sunday night, then continues the next day with seminars from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each member contributes $30,000 a year to pay for research, speakers and incidentals. Many members' wives attended the latest meeting, thanks to the efforts of Andrea Bronfman, Charles's wife. "My wife said, 'You want to talk about Jewish continuity? Where the heck are the women?' " Charles Bronfman says.
Many Study Group members have their own foundations that further the cause of Jewish identity. Mr. Schusterman's foundation will pay a third of the way for any Jewish person in Tulsa under the age of 25 to go to Israel or to a Jewish summer camp.
Mr. Steinhardt has started several projects to draw assimilated young adults to Judaism. Among them is the Jewish Campus Service Corps, a kind of Peace Corps in which recent college graduates spend no less than one year on a college campus. The goal is to create a Jewish life there with everything from leaflets and speakers to Jewish film series and kosher sushi-rolling parties.
Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 11:21
A s billionaire pedophile and alleged sex-trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein sits in prison, reports have continued to surface about his reported links to intelligence, his financial ties to several companies and ''charitable'' foundations, and his friendships with the rich and powerful as well as top politicians.
While Part I and Part II of this series, ''The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,'' have focused on the widespread nature of sexual blackmail operations in recent American history and their ties to the heights of American political power and the U.S. intelligence community, one key aspect of Epstein's own sex-trafficking and blackmail operation that warrants examination is Epstein's ties to Israeli intelligence and his ties to the ''informal'' pro-Israel philanthropist faction known as ''the Mega Group.''
The Mega Group's role in the Epstein case has garnered some attention, as Epstein's main financial patron for decades, billionaire Leslie Wexner, was a co-founder of the group that unites several well-known businessmen with a penchant for pro-Israel and ethno-philanthropy (i.e., philanthropy benefiting a single ethnic or ethno-religious group). However, as this report will show, another uniting factor among Mega Group members is deep ties to organized crime, specifically the organized crime network discussed in Part I of this series, which was largely led by notorious American mobster Meyer Lansky.
By virtue of the role of many Mega Group members as major political donors in both the U.S. and Israel, several of its most notable members have close ties to the governments of both countries as well as their intelligence communities. As this report and a subsequent report will show, the Mega Group also had close ties to two businessmen who worked for Israel's Mossad '-- Robert Maxwell and Marc Rich '-- as well as to top Israeli politicians, including past and present prime ministers with deep ties to Israel's intelligence community.
One of those businessmen working for the Mossad, Robert Maxwell, will be discussed at length in this report. Maxwell, who was a business partner of Mega Group co-founder Charles Bronfman, aided the successful Mossad plot to plant a trapdoor in U.S.-created software that was then sold to governments and companies throughout the world. That plot's success was largely due to the role of a close associate of then-President Ronald Reagan and an American politician close to Maxwell, who later helped aid Reagan in the cover-up of the Iran Contra scandal.
Years later, Maxwell's daughter '-- Ghislaine Maxwell '-- would join Jeffrey Epstein's ''inner circle'' at the same time Epstein was bankrolling a similar software program now being marketed for critical electronic infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad. That company has deep and troubling connections to Israeli military intelligence, associates of the Trump administration, and the Mega Group.
Epstein appears to have ties to Israeli intelligence and has well-documented ties to influential Israeli politicians and the Mega Group. Yet, those entities are not isolated in and of themselves, as many also connect to the organized crime network and powerful alleged pedophiles discussed in previous installments of this series.
Perhaps the best illustration of how the connections between many of these players often meld together can be seen in Ronald Lauder: a Mega Group member, former member of the Reagan administration, long-time donor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's Likud Party, as well as a long-time friend of Donald Trump and Roy Cohn.
From cosmetics heir to political player One often overlooked yet famous client and friend of Roy Cohn is the billionaire heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, Ronald Lauder. Lauder is often described in the press as a ''leading Jewish philanthropist'' and is the president of the World Jewish Congress, yet his many media profiles tend to leave out his highly political past.
In a statement given by Lauder to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in 2018, the cosmetics heir noted that he has known Trump for over 50 years, going back at least to the early 1970s. According to Lauder, his relationship with Trump began when Trump was a student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which Lauder also attended.
President-elect Trump walks with Ronald Lauder after meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Dec. 28, 2016, in Palm Beach, Fla. Evan Vucci | AP
Though the exact nature of their early friendship is unclear, it is evident that they shared many of the same connections, including to the man who would later count them both as his clients, Roy Cohn. While much has been said of the ties between Cohn and Trump, Cohn was particularly close to Lauder's mother, Estee Lauder (born Josephine Mentzer). Estee was even counted among Cohn's most high-profile friends in his New York Times obituary .
A small window into the Lauder-Cohn relationship surfaced briefly in a 2016 article in Politico about a 1981 dinner party held at Cohn's weekend home in Greenwich, Connecticut. The party was attended by Ronald Lauder's parents, Estee and Joe, as well as Trump and his then-wife Ivana, who had a weekend home just two miles away. That party was held soon after Cohn had helped Reagan secure the presidency and had reached the height of his political influence. At the party, Cohn offered toasts to Reagan and to then-Senator for New York Alfonse D'Amato, who would later urge Ronald Lauder to run for political office.
Two years later, in 1983, Ronald Lauder '-- whose only professional experience at that point was working for his parent's cosmetics company '-- was appointed to serve as United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs. Soon after his appointment, he served on the Dinner Tribute Committee for a dinner hosted by the Jewish fraternal and strongly pro-Israel organization B'nai B'rith, the parent organization of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in Roy Cohn's honor. Cohn's influential father, Albert Cohn, was the long-time president of B'nai B'rith's powerful New England-New York chapter and Roy Cohn himself was a member of B'nai B'rith's Banking and Finance Lodge.
The dinner specifically sought to honor Cohn for his pro-Israel advocacy and his efforts to ''fortify'' Israel's economy, and its honorary chairmen included media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump and then-head of Bear Stearns Alan Greenberg, all of whom are connected to Jeffrey Epstein.
During his time as deputy assistant secretary of defense, Lauder was also very active in Israeli politics and had already become an ally of the then-Israeli representative to the United Nations and future prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Lauder would go on to be one of the most important individuals in Netanyahu's rise to power, particularly during his upset victory in 1996, and a major financier of Israel's right-wing Likud Party.
In 1986, the year that Roy Cohn died, Lauder left his post at the Pentagon and became the U.S. ambassador to Austria, where his tenure was shaped by his confrontations with the then-Austrian president and former Nazi collaborator, Kurt Waldheim. Lauder's interest in Austrian politics has continued well into recent years, culminating in accusations that he sought to manipulate Austrian elections in 2012.
After leaving his ambassadorship, Lauder founded the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in 1987 and later went on to run for Mayor of New York against Rudy Giuliani in 1989. Lauder was encouraged to run by then-Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who had close ties to Roy Cohn and his long-time law partner Tom Bolan, who was D'Amato's adviser . At the aforementioned 1983 B'nai B'rith dinner honoring Cohn, D'Amato was the featured speaker.
The likely reason was that Giuliani, though once an ally of the ''Roy Cohn machine,'' was at the time deeply disliked by the late Cohn's associates for prosecuting Cohn's former law partner, Stanley Friedman, for racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. Giuliani also had a history of bitter disagreements with D'Amato. Lauder's primary campaign, though unsuccessful, was noted for its viciousness and its cost, as it burned through more than $13 million.
A few years later, in the early 1990s, Lauder would join a newly formed group that has long evaded scrutiny from the media but has recently become of interest in connection with the Jeffrey Epstein scandal: the Mega Group.
Lauder, Epstein and the mysterious Austrian passport Before getting to the Mega Group, it is worth noting one particular act apparently undertaken by Lauder while he was U.S. ambassador to Austria that has recently come to light in relation to the arrest in early July of Jeffrey Epstein, a finding first reported by journalist Edward Szall. When police recently discovered an Austrian passport with Epstein's picture and a fake name after raiding his Manhattan residence, the source and purpose of the passport came under media scrutiny.
According to the Associated Press , Epstein's defense lawyers specifically argued that ''a friend gave it to him [Epstein] in the 1980s after some Jewish-Americans were informally advised to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when traveling internationally during a period when hijackings were more common.'' This claim appears to be related to concerns that followed the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 in 1976 when Israeli and Jewish hostages were separated from other hostages based largely on the passports in their possession.
Given that Epstein was unable to meet the conventional qualifications for an Austrian passport '-- including long-term residency in Austria (the passport lists him as a resident of Saudi Arabia) and fluency in German '-- it appears that the only way to have acquired an Austrian passport was by unconventional means, meaning assistance from a well-connected Austrian official or foreign diplomat with clout in Austria.
Ronald Lauder, right, and Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima pose with students from the Lauder Chabad School in Vienna, Austria in 1999. Martin Gnedt | AP
Lauder, then-ambassador to Austria for the Reagan administration, would have been well-positioned to acquire such a passport, particularly for the reason cited by Epstein's attorneys that Jewish-Americans could be targeted during travel, and in light of Lauder's very public concerns over threats Jews face from certain terror groups. Furthermore, the passport had been issued in 1987, when Lauder was still serving as an ambassador.
In addition, Lauder was well-connected to Epstein's former patron '-- former head of Bear Stearns Alan Greenberg, who had hired Epstein in the late 1970s immediately after the latter was fired from the Dalton School '-- and Donald Trump, another friend of Lauder and Greenberg who began his friendship with Epstein in 1987, the same year the fake Austrian passport was issued. In 1987, Epstein also began his relationship with his principal financier, Leslie Wexner, who is also closely associated with Lauder (though some sources claim that Epstein and Wexner first met in 1985 but that their strong business relationship was not established until 1987).
Though Epstein's defense attorney declined to reveal the identity of the ''friend'' who provided him with the fake Austrian passport, Lauder was both well-positioned to acquire it in Austria and also deeply connected to the Mega Group, which was co-founded by Epstein's patron Leslie Wexner and to which Epstein has many connections. These connections to both the Austrian government and to Epstein's mentor make Lauder the most likely person to have acquired the document on Epstein's behalf.
Furthermore, Epstein and the Mega Group's ties to the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, also suggest Lauder was involved in procuring the passport, in light of his close ties to the Israeli government and the fact that Mossad has a history of using ambassadors abroad to procure false, foreign passports for its operatives.
Lauder himself has been alleged to have ties to Mossad, as he is a long-time funder of IDC Herzliya, an Israeli university closely associated with Mossad and their recruiters as well as Israeli military intelligence. Lauder even founded IDC Herzliya's Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.
Furthermore, Lauder co-founded the Eastern European broadcasting network CETV with Mark Palmer, a former U.S. diplomat, Kissinger aide and Reagan speechwriter. Palmer is better known for co-founding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization often described as an accessory to U.S. intelligence, and one whose first president confessed to the Washington Post that ''a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.'' A 2001 report in the Evening Standard noted that Epstein once claimed that during the 1980s he worked for the CIA, but Epstein later backed away from that assertion.
The origins of the Mega Group Mafia The Mega Group '-- a secretive group of billionaires to which Lauder belongs '-- was formed in 1991 by Charles Bronfman and Leslie Wexner, the latter of whom has received considerable media scrutiny following the July arrest of his former protege Jeffrey Epstein. Media profiles of the group paint it as ''a loosely organized club of 20 of the nation's wealthiest and most influential Jewish businessmen'' focused on ''philanthropy and Jewishness,'' with membership dues upwards of $30,000 per year. Yet several of its most prominent members have ties to organized crime.
Mega Group members founded and/or are closely associated with some of the most well-known pro-Israel organizations. For instance, members Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt formed Birthright Taglit with the backing of then- and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Steinhardt, an atheist, has stated that his motivation in helping to found the group was to advance his own belief that devotion to and faith in the state of Israel should serve as ''a substitute for [Jewish] theology.''
Other well-known groups associated with the Mega Group include the World Jewish Congress '-- whose past president, Edgar Bronfman, and current president, Ronald Lauder, are both Mega Group members '-- and B'nai B'rith, particularly its spin-off known as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Bronfman brothers were major donors to the ADL, with Edgar Bronfman serving as the ADL's honorary national vice-chair for several years.
Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, second from left, listens to Edgar Bronfman during a 1995 lunch thrown in Peres' honor. From left are: Laurence Tisch, Chairman, President and Chief executive officer of CBS; Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Itamar Rabinowitz and Bronfman. David Karp | AP
When Edgar Bronfman died in 2013, long-time ADL Director Abe Foxman said , ''Edgar was for many years Chair of our Liquor Industry Division, Chair of our New York Appeal, and one of our most significant benefactors.'' Other Mega Group members that are donors and major supporters of the ADL include Ronald Lauder , Michael Steinhardt and the late Max Fisher . As previously mentioned, Roy Cohn's father was a long-time leader of B'nai B'rith's influential New England-New York chapter and Cohn was later a celebrated member of its banking and finance lodge.
In addition, Mega Group members have also been key players in the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. For instance, Max Fisher of the Mega Group founded the National Jewish Coalition, now known as the Republican Jewish Coalition '-- the main pro-Israel neoconservative political lobbying group , known for its support of hawkish policies, and whose current chief patrons, Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, are among Donald Trump's top donors.
Though the Mega Group has officially existed only since 1991, the use of ''philanthropy'' to provide cover for more unscrupulous lobbying or business activities was pioneered decades earlier by Sam Bronfman, the father of Mega Group members Edgar and Charles Bronfman. While other North American elites like J.D. Rockefeller had previously used philanthropic giving as a means of laundering their reputations, Bronfman's approach to philanthropy was unique because it was focused on giving specifically to other members of his own ethno-religious background.
Sam Bronfman, as was detailed in Part I of this series, had long-standing deep ties to organized crime, specifically Meyer Lanksy's organized crime syndicate. Yet, Bronfman's private ambition, according to those close to him, was to become a respected member of high society. As a consequence, Bronfman worked hard to remove the stain that his mob associations had left on his public reputation in Canada and abroad. He accomplished this by becoming a leader in Canada's Zionist movement and, by the end of the 1930s, he was head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and had begun to make a name for himself as a philanthropist for Jewish causes.
Yet even some of Bronfman's activism and philanthropy had hints of the mobster-like reputation he tried so hard to shake. For instance, Bronfman was actively involved in the illegal shipping of arms to Zionist paramilitaries in Palestine prior to 1948, specifically as a co-founder of the National Conference for Israeli and Jewish Rehabilitation that smuggled weapons to the paramilitary group Haganah.
At the same time Bronfman was abetting the illegal smuggling of weapons to the Haganah, his associates in the criminal underworld were doing the same. After World War II, close aides of David Ben-Gurion, who would later become the first prime minister of Israel and was instrumental in the founding of Mossad, forged tight-knit relationships with Meyer Lansky, Benjamin ''Bugsy'' Siegel, Mickey Cohen and other Jewish gangsters of the period. They used their clandestine networks to establish a vast arms smuggling network between the United States and Zionist settlements in Palestine, arming both the Haganah and the Irgun paramilitary groups. As noted in Part I of this report, at the same time these gangsters were aiding the illegal arming of ZIonsit paramilitaries, they were strengthening their ties to U.S. intelligence that had first been formally (though covertly) established in World War II.
After Israel was founded, Sam Bronfman worked with future Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to negotiate the sale of Canadian armaments at half-price to Israel and the bargain weapons purchase was paid for entirely by a fundraising dinner hosted by Bronfman and his wife. Many years later, Peres would go on to introduce another future prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, to Jeffrey Epstein.
The rest of the Bronfman family's march on ''the road to respectability'' was undertaken by Bronfman's children, who married into aristocratic families such as the European Rothschilds and the Wall Street ''royalty'' of the Lehmans and the Loebs .
The Bronfmans' newfound respectability did not mean that their association with the Lansky-led criminal empire had dissolved. Indeed, prominent members of the Seagrams dynasty came under fire in the 1960s and 1970s for their close association with Willie ''Obie'' Obront, a major figure in Canadian organized crime, whom Canadian professor Stephen Schneider has referred to as the Meyer Lansky of Canada.
However, Edgar and Charles Bronfman were hardly the only members of the Mega Group with deep and long-standing ties to the Lansky-led National Crime Syndicate. Indeed, one of the group's prominent members, hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, opened up about his own family ties to Lansky in his autobiography No Bull: My Life in and out the Markets , where he noted that his father, Sol ''Red McGee'' Steinhardt, was Lansky's jewel fence of choice and a major player in New York's criminal underworld. Sol Steinhardt was also his son's first client on Wall Street and helped him jumpstart his career in finance.
The ties between the Mega Group and the National Crime Syndicate don't stop there. Another prominent member of the Mega Group with ties to this same criminal network is Max Fisher, who has been described as Wexner's mentor and is also alleged to have worked with Detroit's ''Purple Gang'' during Prohibition and beyond. The Purple Gang were part of the network that smuggled Bronfman liquor from Canada into the United State during Prohibition, and one of its founders, Abe Bernstein, was a close associate of both Meyer Lansky and Moe Dalitz. Fisher was a key adviser to several U.S. presidents, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as to Henry Kissinger.
Max Fisher, center, and Henry Kissinger, right, meet with leaders of Jewish organizations prior to Kissinger's 1975 Middle East trip. Henry Burroughs | AP
In addition to Fisher, Mega Group member Ronald Lauder was connected to Roy Cohn and Tom Bolan, both of whom were closely associated with this same Lansky-led crime network (see Part I and Part II ) and who regularly represented top Mafia figures in court. Furthermore, another member of the Mega Group, director Steven Spielberg, is a well-known protege of Lew Wasserman, the mob-connected media mogul and long-time backer of Ronald Reagan's film and later political career, discussed in Part II of this series.
One surprise connection to Cohn involves Mega Group member, and former president of U.S. weapons firm General Dynamics, Lester Crown, whose brother-in-law is David Schine, Cohn's confidant and alleged lover during the McCarthy hearings, whose relationship with Cohn helped bring about the downfall of McCarthyism.
Another member of the Mega Group worth noting is Laurence Tisch, who owned CBS News for several years and founded Loews Corporation. Tisch is notable for his work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA, where Donald Barr, who hired Epstein at the Dalton School, also served and which forged ties with Lansky's criminal empire during World War II.
Wexner's mansions and the Shapiro murder Leslie ''Les'' Wexner, the other Mega Group co-founder, also has ties to organized crime. Wexner's ties to Jeffrey Epstein have come under scrutiny following the latter's recent arrest, as Wexner was the only publicly acknowledged client of Epstein's suspicious hedge fund, the source of much of this wealth, and the previous owner of Epstein's $56 million Manhattan townhouse, which Wexner transferred to an Epstein-controlled entity for free.
Before Epstein received the townhouse, Wexner appears to have used the residence for some unconventional purposes, noted in a 1996 New York Times article on the then-Wexner-owned residence, which included ''a bathroom reminiscent of James Bond movies: hidden beneath a stairway, lined with lead to provide shelter from attack and supplied with closed-circuit television screens and a telephone, both concealed in a cabinet beneath the sink.'' The Times article does not speculate as to the purpose of this equipment, though the allusion to famous fictional superspy James Bond suggests that it may have been used to snoop on guests or conduct electronic surveillance.
The 1996 Times article also noted that, after Wexner bought the residence for $13.2 million in 1989, he spent millions more decorating and furnishing the home, including the addition of the electronic equipment in the ''James Bond'' bathroom, only to apparently never live in it. The Times , which interviewed Epstein for the piece, quoted him as saying that ''Les never spent more than two months there.'' Epstein told the Times , which identified Epstein as Wexner's ''protege and one of his financial advisers,'' that the house, by that time, already belonged to him.
That same year, Epstein was commissioning artwork for Wexner's Ohio mansion. A recent article from the Times noted that:
In the summer of 1996, Maria Farmer was working on an art project for Mr. Epstein in Mr. Wexner's Ohio mansion. While she was there, Mr. Epstein sexually assaulted her, according to an affidavit Ms. Farmer filed earlier this year in federal court in Manhattan. She said that she fled the room and called the police, but that Mr. Wexner's security staff refused to let her leave for 12 hours.''
Farmer's account strongly suggests that, given the behavior of his personal security staff at his mansion following Epstein's alleged assault on Farmer, Wexner was well aware of Epstein's predatory behavior towards young women. This is compounded by claims made by Alan Dershowitz '-- a former lawyer for and friend of Epstein's, who has also been accused of raping underage girls '-- that Wexner has also been accused of raping underage girls exploited by Epstein on at least seven occasions.
The presence of the electronic equipment in his home's bathroom, other oddities related to the townhouse, and aspects of the links between Epstein and Wexner suggest there is more to Wexner, who has rather successfully developed a public image of a respectable businessman and philanthropist, much like other prominent members of the Mega Group.
Leslie Wexner and his wife Abigail tour the ''Transfigurations'' exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Jay LaPrete | AP
However, bits and pieces of Wexner's private secrets have occasionally bubbled up, only to be subjected to rapid cover-ups amidst concerns of ''libeling'' the powerful and well-connected billionaire ''philanthropist.''
In 1985, Columbus (Ohio) lawyer Arthur Shapiro was murdered in broad daylight at point-blank range in what was largely referred to as a ''mob style murder.'' The homicide still remains unsolved, likely due to the fact that then-Columbus Police Chief James Jackson ordered the destruction of key documents of his department's investigation into the murder.
Jackson's ordering of the documents' destruction came to light years later in 1996, when he was under investigation for corruption. According to the Columbus Dispatch , Jackson justified the destruction of one '' viable and valuable '' report because he felt that it ''was so filled with wild speculation about prominent business leaders that it was potentially libelous.'' The nature of this ''wild speculation'' was that ''millionaire businessmen in Columbus and Youngstown were linked to the 'mob-style murder.'''
Though Jackson's efforts were meant to keep this ''libelous'' report far from public view, it was eventually obtained by Bob Fitrakis '-- attorney, journalist, and executive director of the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism '-- after he was ''accidentally'' sent a copy of the report in 1998 as part of a public records request.
The report, titled '' Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis ,'' names Leslie Wexner as linked ''with associates reputed to be organized crime figures'' and also lists the names of businessman Jack Kessler, former Columbus City Council President and Wexner associate Jerry Hammond, and former Columbus City Council member Les Wright as also being involved in Shapiro's murder.
The report also noted that Arthur Shapiro's law firm '-- Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm & Warren '-- represented Wexner's company, The Limited, and states that ''prior to his death, Arthur Shapiro managed this account [The Limited] for the law firm.'' It also noted that, at the time of his death, Shapiro ''was the subject of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service because he had failed to file income tax returns for some seven years prior to his death, and he had invested in some questionable tax shelters.'' It also stated that his death prevented Shapiro from his planned testimony at a grand jury hearing about these ''questionable tax shelters.''
As to Wexner's alleged links to organized crime, the report focuses on the close business relationship between Wexner's The Limited and Francis Walsh, whose trucking company ''[had] done an excess of 90 percent of the Limited's trucking business around the time of Shapiro's murder,'' according to the report. Walsh was named in a 1988 indictment as a ''co-conspirator'' of Genovese crime family boss Anthony ''Fat Tony'' Salerno, whose long-time lawyer was Roy Cohn; and the Shapiro murder report stated that Walsh was ''still considered associates of the Genovese/LaRocca crime family, and Walsh was still providing truck transportation for The Limited.''
Notably, the Genovese crime family has long formed a key part of the National Crime Syndicate, as its former head, Charles ''Lucky'' Luciano, co-created the criminal organization with his close friend Meyer Lansky. Upon Luciano's imprisonment and subsequent deportation from the United States, Lansky took over the syndicate's U.S. operations and his association with Luciano's successors continued until Lansky's death in 1983.
The ''Mega'' Mystery and the Mossad In May 1997, the Washington Post broke an explosive story '-- long since forgotten '-- based on an intercepted phone call made between a Mossad official in the U.S. and his superior in Tel Aviv that discussed the Mossad's efforts to obtain a secret U.S. government document. According to the Post, the Mossad official stated during the phone call that ''Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben Elissar had asked him whether he could obtain a copy of the letter given to [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat by [then-Secretary of State Warren] Christopher on Jan. 16, the day after the Hebron accord was signed by Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.''
The Post article continued:
According to a source who viewed a copy of the NSA transcript of the conversation, the intelligence officer, speaking in Hebrew, said, 'The ambassador wants me to go to Mega to get a copy of this letter.' The source said the supervisor in Tel Aviv rejected the request, saying, 'This is not something we use Mega for.'''
The leaked communication led to an investigation that sought to identify an individual code-named ''Mega'' that the Post said ''may be someone in the U.S. government who has provided information to the Israelis in the past,'' a concern that subsequently spawned a fruitless FBI investigation. The Mossad later claimed that ''Mega'' was merely a codeword for the U.S.' CIA, but the FBI and NSA were unconvinced by that claim and believed that it was a senior U.S. government official that had potentially once been involved in working with Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. naval intelligence analyst later convicted of spying for the Mossad.
Almost one year to the day after the ''Mega'' spy scandal broke, the Wall Street Journal was the first outlet to report on the existence of a little-known organization of billionaires that was ''informally'' called the Mega Group and had been founded years prior in 1991. The report made no mention of the spy scandal that had spread concerns of Israeli espionage in the U.S. only a year prior. However, the group's distinctive ''informal'' name and the connections of its members to the Mossad and to high-ranking Israeli politicians, including prime ministers, raise the possibility that ''Mega'' was not an individual, as the FBI and NSA had believed, but a group.
In 1997, when the ''Mega'' spy scandal broke, Netanyahu had recently become prime minister of Israel after an upset victory, a victory that was largely credited to one well-connected Netanyahu backer in particular, Ronald Lauder. Beyond being a major donor, Lauder had brought Arthur Finklestein on to work for Netanyahu's 1996 campaign, whose strategies were credited for Netanyahu's surprise win. Netanyahu was close enough to Lauder that he personally enlisted Lauder and George Nader to serve as his peace envoys to Syria.
Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with Ronald Lauder in 1997. Photo | Reuters
Nader, who was connected to the Trump 2016 campaign and Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, was recently hit with federal child sex trafficking charges last month, soon after Jeffrey Epstein had been arrested on similar charges. At the time Nader was picked to work with Lauder on Netanyahu's behalf, he had already been caught possessing large amounts of child pornography on two separate occasions, first in 1984 and later in 1990.
This strong connection between Netanyahu and Lauder during the time of the 1997 ''Mega'' spy scandal is important considering Mossad answers directly to Israel's prime minister.
Another possible connection between the Mega Group and the Mossad owes to the Mega Group's ties to Meyer Lansky's criminal network. As was detailed in Part I, Lansky had established deep ties to U.S. intelligence after World War II and was also connected to the Mossad through Mossad official Tibor Rosenbaum, whose bank was frequently used by Lansky to launder money. In addition, Lansky collaborated on at least one occasion with notorious Mossad ''superspy'' Rafi Eitan, who he helped acquire sensitive electronic equipment possessed only by the CIA but coveted by Israeli intelligence. Eitan is best known in the U.S. for being the Mossad handler of Jonathan Pollard.
Notably, Eitan was the main source of claims that the code-word ''Mega'' used by the Mossad officials in 1997 referred to the CIA and not to a potential source in the U.S. government once linked to Pollard's spying activities, making his claims as to the true meaning of the term somewhat dubious.
Given that the organized crime network tied to the Mega Group had ties to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the ''Mega'' codeword could plausibly have referred to this secretive group of billionaires. More supporting evidence for this theory comes from the fact that prominent members of the Mega Group were business partners of Mossad agents, including media mogul Robert Maxwell and commodities trader Marc Rich.
The mysterious Maxwells The Maxwell family has become a source of renewed media interest following Jeffrey Epstein's arrest, as Ghislaine Maxwell, long described in the media as a British ''socialite,'' was publicly cited as Epstein's long-time ''on and off'' girlfriend, and Epstein's victims, as well as former wives of Epstein's friends, have claimed that she was Epstein's ''pimp'' and procured underage girls for his sexual blackmail operation. Ghislaine Maxwell is also alleged to have engaged in the rape of the girls she procured for Epstein and to have used them to produce child pornography.
Ghislaine was the favorite and youngest daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell. Maxwell, born Jan Ludvick Hoch, had joined the British Army in World War II. Afterwards, according to authors John Loftus and Mark Aarons , he greatly influenced the Czechoslovakian government's decision to arm Zionist paramilitaries during the 1948 war that resulted in Israel's creation as a state, and Maxwell himself was also involved in the smuggling of aircraft parts to Israel.
Around this time, Maxwell was approached by British intelligence outfit MI6 and offered a position that Maxwell ultimately declined. MI6 then classified him as ''Zionist '-- loyal only to Israel'' and made him a person of interest. He later became an agent of the Mossad, according to several books including Seymour Hersh's The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, and Robert Maxwell: Israel's Superspy by Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon.
According to Victor Ostrovsky , a former Mossad case officer:
Mossad was financing many of its operations in Europe from money stolen from Maxwell's newspaper pension fund. They got their hands on the funds almost as soon as Maxwell made the purchase of the Mirror Newspaper Group with money lent to him by Mossad.''
In exchange for his services, the Mossad helped Maxwell satisfy his sexual appetite during his visits to Israel, providing him with prostitutes, ''the service maintained for blackmail purposes.'' It was later revealed that the hotel in which he stayed in Israel was bugged with cameras, allowing the Mossad to acquire ''a small library of video footage of Maxwell in sexually compromising positions.'' As with the CIA, the Mossad's use of blackmail against both friend and foe is well-documented and known to be extensive .
Maxwell was also a close associate and friend of Israeli ''superspy'' Rafi Eitan, who, as previously mentioned, was Jonathan Pollard's handler and who had previously worked directly with Meyer Lansky. Eitan had learned of a revolutionary new software being used by the U.S. government known as ''Promis'' from Earl Brian, a long-time associate and aide to Ronald Reagan. Promis is often considered the forerunner to the ''Prism'' software used by spy agencies today and was developed by William Hamilton, who leased the software to the U.S. government through his company, Inslaw, in 1982.
Ariel Sharon (right)meets with Robert Maxwell in Jerusalem on Feb. 20, 1990. Photo | AP
According to author and former BBC investigative journalist Gordon Thomas, Brian was angry that the U.S. Department of Justice was successfully using Promis to go after organized crime and money-laundering activities and Eitan felt that the program could aid Israel. At the time, Eitan was the director of the now defunct Israeli military intelligence agency Lekem, which gathered scientific and technical intelligence abroad from both public and covert sources, especially in relation to Israel's nuclear weapons program.
A plan was hatched to install a ''trapdoor'' into the software and then market Promis throughout the world, providing the Mossad with invaluable intelligence on the operations of its enemies and allies while also providing Eitan and Brian with copious amounts of cash. According to the testimony of ex-Mossad official Ari Ben-Menashe, Brian provided a copy of Promis to Israel's military intelligence, which contacted an Israeli American programmer living in California who then planted the ''trapdoor'' in the software. The CIA was later said to have installed its own trapdoor in the software but it is unknown if they did so with a version of the already bugged software and how widely it was adopted relative to the version bugged by Israeli intelligence.
After the trapdoor was inserted, the problem became selling the bugged version of the software to governments as well as private companies around the world, particularly in areas of interest. Brian first attempted to buy out Inslaw and Promis and then use that same company to sell the bugged version.
Unsuccessful, Brian turned to his close friend, then-Attorney General Ed Meese whose Justice Department then abruptly refused to make the payments to Inslaw that were stipulated by the contract, essentially using the software for free, which Inslaw claimed to be theft. Some have speculated that Meese's role in that decision was shaped, not only by his friendship with Brian, but the fact that his wife was a major investor in Brian's business ventures. Meese would later become an adviser to Donald Trump when he was president-elect.
Inslaw was forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of Meese's actions and sued the Justice Department. The court later found that the Meese-led department ''took, converted, stole'' the software through ''trickery, fraud and deceit.''
With Inslaw out of the way, Brian sold the software all over the world. Eitan later recruited Robert Maxwell to become another Promis salesman, which he did remarkably well, even succeeding in selling the software to Soviet intelligence and conspiring with Republican Texas Senator John Tower to have the software adopted by the U.S. government laboratory at Los Alamos. Dozens of countries used the software on their most carefully guarded computer systems, unaware that Mossad now had access to everything Promis touched.
Whereas the Mossad's past reliance on gathering intelligence had relied on the same tactics used by its equivalents in the U.S. and elsewhere, the widespread adoption of the Promis software, largely through the actions of Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, gave the Mossad a way to gather not just troves of counterintelligence data, but also blackmail on other intelligence agencies and powerful figures.
Indeed, Promis' backdoor and adoption by intelligence agencies all over the world essentially provided the Mossad with access to troves of blackmail that the CIA and FBI had acquired on their friends and foes for over half a century. Strangely, in recent years, the FBI has sought to hide information related to Robert Maxwell's connection to the Promis scandal.
According to journalist Robert Fisk , Maxwell was also involved in the Mossad abduction of Israeli nuclear weapons whistleblower Vanunu Mordechai. Mordechai had attempted to provide the media with information on the extent of Israel's nuclear weapons program, which was eventually published by the Sunday Times of London . Yet, Mordechai had also contacted the Daily Mirror with the information, the Mirror being an outlet that was owned by Maxwell and whose foreign editor was a close Maxwell associate and alleged Mossad asset, Nicholas Davies. Journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that Davies had also been involved in Israeli arms deals.
Per Fisk, it was Maxwell who contacted the Israeli Embassy in London and told them of Mordechai's activities. This led to Mordechai's entrapment by a female Mossad agent who seduced him as part of a ''honey trap'' operation that led to his kidnapping and later imprisonment in Israel. Mordechai served an 18-year sentence, 12 years of which were in solitary confinement.
Then, there is the issue of Maxwell's death, widely cited by mainstream and independent media alike as suspicious and a potential homicide . According to authors Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, Maxwell had sealed his own fate when he attempted to threaten top Mossad officials with the exposure of certain operations if they did not help him rescue his media empire from crippling debt and financial difficulties. Many of Maxwell's creditors , who had grown increasingly displeased with the media mogul, were Israeli and several of them were alleged to be Mossad-connected themselves.
Thomas and Dillon argue in their biography of Maxwell's life that the Mossad felt that Maxwell had become more of a liability than an asset and killed him on his yacht three months after he demanded the bailout. On the other extreme are theories that suggest Maxwell committed suicide because of the financial difficulties his empire faced.
Ghislaine Maxwell, far right, Robert Maxwell's daughter, looks on his casket is unloaded from a plane in Jerusalem, Nov. 8, 1991. Heribert Proepper | AP
Some have taken Maxwell's funeral held in Israel as the country's ''official'' confirmation of Maxwell's service to the Mossad, as it was likened to a state funeral and attended by no less than six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence. During his funeral service in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eulogized him and stated : ''He has done more for Israel than can today be said.'' Other eulogies were given by future Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert (then Health Minister) and Shimon Peres, with the latter also praising Maxwell's ''services'' on behalf of Israel.
Swimming in the same swamp As he built his business empire '-- and even became a member of Parliament, Maxwell was also doing work for Israeli intelligence, as several of the Israeli companies in which he invested became fronts for the Mossad. In addition, as he became a media mogul, he developed a bitter rivalry with Rupert Murdoch, a close friend of Roy Cohn and an influential figure in American and British media.
Maxwell also partnered with the Bronfman brothers, Edgar and Charles '-- key figures in the Mega Group. In 1989 Maxwell and Charles Bronfman partnered up to bid on the Jerusalem Post newspaper and the Post described the two men as ''two of the world's leading Jewish financiers'' and their interest in the venture as ''developing The Jerusalem Post and expanding its influence among world Jewry.'' A year prior, Maxwell and Bronfman had become top shareholders in the Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva.
Maxwell also worked with Charles Bronfman's brother Edgar in the late 1980s to convince the Soviet Union to allow Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. Edgar's efforts in this regard have received more attention , as it was a defining moment of his decades-long presidency of the World Jewish Congress, of which Ronald Lauder is currently president. Yet, Maxwell had also made considerable use of his contacts in the Soviet government in this effort.
Maxwell also moved in the circles of the network previously described in Parts I and II in this series. A key example of this is the May 1989 party Maxwell hosted on his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine '-- named for his youngest daughter and Epstein's future ''girlfriend.'' Attendees of the party included Roy Cohn's protege Donald Trump and his long-time law partner Tom Bolan. A close friend of Nancy Reagan was also present, journalist Mike Wallace, as was literary agent Mort Janklow, who represented Ronald Reagan and two of Cohn's closest friends: journalists William Safire and Barbara Walters.
The CEO of what would soon become Time Warner, Steve Ross, was also invited to the exclusive event. Ross' presence is notable, as he had built his business empire largely through his association with New York crime lords Manny Kimmel and Abner ''Longy'' Zwillman. Zwillman was a close friend of Meyer Lansky, Michael Steinhardt's father, and Sam Bronfman, father of Edgar and Charles Bronfman.
Another attendee of the Maxwell yacht party was former Secretary of the Navy and former Henry Kissinger staffer Jon Lehman, who would go on to associate with the controversial neoconservative think tank, Project for a New American Century. Prior to being secretary of the Navy, Lehman had been president of the Abington Corporation, which hired arch-neocon Richard Perle to manage the portfolio of Israeli arms dealers Shlomo Zabludowicz and his son Chaim, who paid Ablington $10,000 month. A scandal arose when those payments continued after both Lehman and Perle joined the Reagan Department of Defense and while Perle was working to persuade the Pentagon to buy arms from companies linked to Zabludowicz. Perle had been part of the Reagan transition team along with Roy Cohn's long-time friend and law partner Tom Bolan (another Maxwell yacht guest).
In addition to Lehman, another former Kissinger staffer, Thomas Pickering was present at Maxwell's yacht part. Pickering played a minor role in the Iran-Contra affair and, at the time of the Maxwell yacht party, he was U.S. ambassador to Israel. Senator John Tower (R-TX), who allegedly conspired with Maxwell in the Mossad-bugged Promis software at the Los Alamos laboratories, was also present. Tower died just months before Maxwell in a suspicious plane crash .
Ghislaine Maxwell was also at this rather notable event. After her father's mysterious death and alleged murder on the same yacht that bears her name in 1991, she quickly packed her bags and moved to New York City. There, she soon made the acquaintance of Jeffrey Epstein and, a few years later, developed close ties to the Clinton family, which will be discussed in the next installment of this series.
Jeffrey Epstein and the new ''Promis'' After it was revealed that Epstein had evaded stricter sentencing in 2008 due to his links to ''intelligence,'' it was the Mossad ties of Ghislaine Maxwell's father that have led many to speculate that Epstein's sexual blackmail operation was sharing incriminating information with the Mossad. Former CBS executive producer and current journalist for the media outlet Narativ , Zev Shalev, has since claimed that he independently confirmed that Epstein was tied directly to the Mossad.
Donald and Melania Trump with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida in 2000. Photo | Davidoff Studios
Epstein was a long-time friend of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has long-standing and deep ties to Israel's intelligence community. Their decades-long friendship has been the source of recent political attacks targeting Barak, who is running in the Israeli elections against current Prime Minister Netanyahu later this year.
Barak is also close to Epstein's chief patron and Mega Group member Leslie Wexner, whose Wexner Foundation gave Barak $2 million in 2004 for a still unspecified research program. According to Barak, he was first introduced to Epstein by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who eulogized Robert Maxwell at his funeral and had decades-long ties with the Bronfman family going back to the early 1950s. Peres was also a frequent participant in programs funded by Leslie Wexner in Israel and worked closely with the Mossad for decades.
In 2015, a few years after Epstein's release from prison following his conviction for soliciting sex from a minor in 2008, Barak formed a company with Epstein with the chief purpose of investing in an Israeli start-up then known as Reporty. That company, now called Carbyne, sells its signature software to 911 call centers and emergency service providers and is also available to consumers as an app that provides emergency services with access to a caller's camera and location and also runs any caller's identity through any linked government database. It has specifically been marketed by the company itself and the Israeli press as a solution to mass shootings in the United States and is already being used by at least two U.S. counties.
Israeli media reported that Epstein and Barak were among the company's largest investors. Barak poured millions into the company and it was recently revealed by Haaretz that a significant amount of Barak's total investments in Carbyne was funded by Epstein, making him a '' de facto partner'' in the company. Barak is now Carbyne's chairman .
The company's executive team are all former members of different branches of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, that is often likened to Israel's equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Carbyne's current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company's director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem , also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. Leshem now works for a subsidiary of Erik Prince's company Frontier Services Group, according to the independent media outlet Narativ .
The company also includes several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel '-- an investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne's board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne's board , alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.
Narativ , which wrote the first expose on Carbyne after Epstein's arrest, noted that the Chinese government uses a smartphone app very similar to Carbyne as part of its mass surveillance apparatus, even though the original purpose of the app was for improved emergency reporting. According to Narativ , the Chinese Carbyne-equivalent ''monitors every aspect of a user's life, including personal conversations, power usage, and tracks a user's movement.''
Given the history of Robert Maxwell '-- the father of Epstein's long-time ''girlfriend'' and young-girl-procuring madam, Ghislaine Maxwell '-- in promoting the sale of Carbyne's modified Promis software, which was also marketed as a tool to improve government efficacy but was actually a tool of mass surveillance for the benefit of Israeli intelligence, the overlap between Carbyne and Promis is troubling and warrants further investigation.
It is also worth noting that Unit 8200-connected tech start-ups are being widely integrated into U.S. companies and have developed close ties to the U.S. military-industrial complex, with Carbyne being just one example of that trend.
As MintPress previously reported , Unit 8200-linked outfits like Team8 have recently hired former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers as a senior advisor and gained prominent Silicon Valley figures, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as key investors. Many American technology companies, from Intel to Google to Microsoft, have merged with several Unit 8200-connected start-ups in recent years and have been moving many key jobs and operations to Israel with backing from key Republican donors like Paul Singer . Many of those same companies, particularly Google and Microsoft, are also major U.S. government contractors.
Who was Epstein really working for? Even though Jeffrey Epstein appears to have had ties to the Mossad, this series has revealed that the networks to which Epstein was connected were not Mossad-exclusive, as many of the individuals close to Epstein '-- Lesie Wexner, for instance '-- were part of a mob-connected class of oligarchs with deep ties to both the U.S. and Israel. As was discussed in Part I of this series, the sharing of ''intelligence'' (i.e., blackmail) between intelligence agencies and the same organized crime network connected to the Mega Group goes back decades. With Leslie Wexner of the Mega Group as Epstein's chief patron, as opposed to a financier with direct ties to the Mossad, a similar relationship is more than likely in the case of the sexual blackmail operation that Epstein ran.
Given that intelligence agencies in both the U.S. and elsewhere often conduct covert operations for the benefit of oligarchs and large corporations as opposed to ''national security interest,'' Epstein's ties to the Mega Group suggest that this group holds a unique status and influence in both the governments of the U.S. and of Israel, as well as in other countries (e.g., Russia) that were not explored in this report. This is by virtue of their role as key political donors in both countries, as well as the fact that several of them own powerful companies or financial institutions in both countries. Indeed, many members of the Mega Group have deep ties to Israel's political class, including to Netanyahu and Ehud Barak as well as to now-deceased figures like Shimon Peres, and to members of the American political class.
Ultimately, the picture painted by the evidence is not a direct tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations.
Though this series has so far focused on the ties of this network to main Republican Party affiliates, the next and final installment will reveal the ties developed between this web and the Clintons. As will be revealed, despite the Clintons' willingness to embrace corrupt dealings during the span of their political careers, their mostly friendly relationship with this network still saw them use the power of sexual blackmail to obtain certain policy decisions that were favorable to their personal and financial interests but not to the Clintons' political reputation or agendas.
Editor's note | The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Rafi Eitan was interested in repurposing the American-made Promise software to restore his standing in Israel's intelligence community caused by the fall-out from the Pollard Affair. The Pollard Affair occurred three years after Eitan had succeeded in repurposing the software and MintPress has removed that incorrect information from the article and regrets the error.
This article also originally neglected to mention that Eitan, at the time of his collaboration with Earl Brian to repurpose the Promis software, was the director of the now-defunct Israeli military intelligence agency Lekem at the time of those events and that information has been added to the story.
Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.
Did Jeffrey Epstein 'have portrait of Bill Clinton in blue dress and red heels in his NYC mansion?' | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 19:57
Jeffrey Epstein had a bizarre portrait which appeared to be of Bill Clinton in a dress hanging in his Manhattan mansion, DailyMailTV can reveal.
The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse.
The painting was secretly snapped inside the pedophile's lavish $56 million home in October 2012, four years after Epstein completed his sweetheart deal for prostitution of a minor and seven years before he was accused of running a sex trafficking ring of underage girls.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, was visiting Epstein to present a business proposal - an encounter with the pervert which included spotting a girl who seemed to be 14 waiting to see the financier.
The woman said she was shocked to catch sight of the portrait through an open door as she walked through the ornate home with her business partner.
She told DailyMailTV: 'It was absolutely Bill Clinton. It was shocking - it was definitely a painting of him. It was a very provocative, sexual picture. He was wearing heels, a blue dress and his hand was in a weird position.'
Jeffrey Epstein had a bizarre portrait which appears to be of Bill Clinton hanging in his Manhattan mansion, depicting the former president lounging on a chair in the Oval Office wearing red heels and a telling blue dress, a source exclusively told DailyMailTV
The color of the dress seemed to be a pointed reference to Clinton's former intern Monica Lewinsky who a blue dress during their infamous sexual encounter in the White House. The painting seemed to show Clinton in the Oval Office, with the presidential seal on display
Epstein and Clinton were once friends, with the now 72-year-old flying on the now deceased financier's private plane, dubbed the Lolita Express, several times and on his own account vising the town house once - making it possible he could have seen the bizarre painting
The color of the dress seemed to be a pointed reference to Clinton's former intern Monica Lewinsky, who a blue dress during their infamous sexual encounter in the White House.
Epstein and Clinton were once friends, with the now 72-year-old flying on the now deceased financier's private plane, dubbed the Lolita Express, several times and on his own account vising the town house once - making it possible he could have seen the bizarre painting.
Clinton has however denied being on Epstein's 'pedophile island,' Little St. James - a denial which Donald Trump sought to cast doubt on this week.
The presence of the picture is a new twist in the relationship between Clinton, his family and Epstein.
Last month the former president's office said he had not known anything of Epstein's crimes and had taken four trips with him in 2002 and 2003 - although flight logs showed that he had taken a total of at least 26 individual flights in the course of those.
One of Epstein's former sex slaves, Virginia Roberts, claimed she saw Clinton on the island for a dinner held in his honor shortly after he left office, and stood by the claim when questioned under oath.
After the financier's apparent suicide on Saturday morning, Trump retweeted a suggestion that the Clinton were somehow involved in the death and a link to court documents setting out Roberts' evidence.
Epstein was found dead by suicide on Saturday after he was arrested in July
Additionally, Epstein's alleged procurer, Ghislaine Maxwell, was a guest at Chelsea Clinton's wedding to Marc Meezvinsky, at least a year after the time when Bill Clinton says his relationship with Epstein ended.
The origin of the painting is unknown. DailyMail.com has seen metadata which verifies where and when the picture was taken, which showed it hanging against a dark-colored wall in Epstein's stone fortress.
'Clinton' has his legs crossed over the arm of a chair, with blood red heels hovering over a rug that seems to bear the presidential seal.
The shoulder of the blue dress hangs off to the side as 'Clinton' seems to raise a 'come hither' finger towards the viewer.
The source who spotted the painting said she saw it while 'being led from the office to his personal quarters when we saw the portrait.
'It was through a door that had been left temporarily open by his housekeeper or butler.
'I thought, ''Why in the world would Epstein have that up?'' I didn't even know that they knew each other.'
Although she was stunned by the painting, her business partner managed to take a snap of the painting.
She said: 'He took a picture. I was mortified because there were cameras everywhere.'
The source added that she was inside Epstein's home for around an hour and a half for the meeting, which had been arranged by the pedophile's then-assistant Lesley Groff.
The glamorous blonde was named as a possible accomplice and granted immunity in Epstein's controversial plea deal in 2008.
The source said: 'We had been in communication with Lesley Groff. She was the person who coordinated our meeting.
'We were met at the door of Epstein's penthouse by a butler. He had a real butler - an old gentleman who walked with a limp. He led us to Lesley's circular office. She was beautiful and fabulous and so nice and bubbly.
'Then she led us into Epstein's private quarters which is when we passed by the open door and the portrait.
'We went into his dining room and spoke to him about the proposal.'
The source told DailyMailTV: 'It was absolutely Bill Clinton. It was shocking - it was definitely a painting of him. It was a very provocative, sexual picture. He was wearing heels, a blue dress and his hand was in a weird position'. Pictured: Clinton and Lewinsky in 1997
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, was visiting Epstein's home in New York (pictured) to present a business proposal in 2012 and said she was shocked to catch sight of the portrait through an open door as she walked through the ornate home with her business partner
Ongoing relationship? Epstein's alleged procurer, Ghislaine Maxwell, was one of the guests at Chelsea Clinton's 2010 wedding to Marc Mezvinsky, at least a year after the former president says he last spoke to the pervert financier
After the discussion, the source returned to the waiting area and said she noticed a young Hispanic girl was waiting to see Epstein.
She added: 'We were wrapping things up with his private secretary and I noticed a young Hispanic girl there, all hunched up over her phone, waiting to see him next.
'I thought it was odd that she was in the same waiting room we were in.
Showed around: Lesley Groff was involved in the meeting with Epstein at which the picture was taken. 'She was beautiful and fabulous and so nice and bubbly,' said the source
'She was really young - she looked about 14. I thought that maybe she was the housekeeper's daughter.'
The source added that during her hour long discussion with Epstein, he struck her as a 'creepy' man.
She said: 'He came out in pajamas. He wasn't messy but he had on a white t-shirt, pajama bottoms and bare feet. He was very grey and he looked creepy.
'He looked like a villain to me. I immediately knew we didn't want to do business with him, despite wanting the contract.
'I knew he would bury us if something went wrong.'
The proposal fell through and she never worked with the billionaire.
The macabre and excessive decor of Epstein's home has been well documented.
While New York tax officials assessed the home at $55.93 million, government prosecutors assessed it to be worth $77 million.
The sidewalk outside the home was heated so that any snow that settled on the pavement would melt immediately.
The private Boeing 727 airliner (pictured) that carried prominent passengers also allegedly ferried underage girls
In February 2002 Naomi Campbell was aboard the aircraft with Bill Clinton, according to flight logs
It is complete with multiple bedrooms, five bathrooms, a two-floor reception room and three three-room suites that span the entire fourth floor.
A Vanity Fair article noted that Epstein decorated his entrance hall with 'row upon row of individually framed eyeballs'... imported from England.'
One visitor to the sinister townhouse told the New York Times that there was a chessboard at the bottom of the stairs with customized figurines modeled after one of Epstein's staffers and 'dressed suggestively'.
Among the bizarre interior oddities is the mural on the second floor that Epstein commissioned that shows him in the middle of a prison scene and surrounded by barbed wire, guards and a guard station.
R. Couri Hay, a public relations specialist who was invited to Epstein's home and viewed the mural just three months ago, recalled the billionaire saying: 'That's me, and I had this painted because there is always the possibility that could be me again'.
Other people to have visited the home noted a life-size doll hanging from a chandelier and a dining room designed to resemble a beach.
He has a table in his dining room covered with photos of famous faces, including a signed picture with former president Bill Clinton.
There is also a wall in Epstein's study decorated with photos of director Woody Allen and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
Other visitors to the home noted a large 20-seat dining table surrounded by computer screens and phones.
Ghislaine Maxwell, consort of Jeffrey Epstein, has been living in mansion outside of Boston
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 23:41
By Louise Boyle In New York For Dailymail.com 13:47 14 Aug 2019, updated 22:38 14 Aug 2019
Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, has been hiding out at a secluded $3M oceanfront property in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal The property is owned by her tech CEO boyfriend Scott Borgerson, 43, who has been seen running errands in the area and walking Maxwell's dogThe British socialite was a long-time consort of Jeffrey Epstein and the alleged procurer of victims in his underage sex trafficking ringMaxwell hasn't been seen publicly in three years and hasn't left the home amid new focus on Epstein's alleged co-conspirators following his apparent suicide on Saturday'She's become a real homebody, rarely ventures out. She's the antithesis of the woman who traveled extensively and partied constantly with Epstein,' a source familiar with Maxwell's new life exclusively told DailyMail.comMaxwell is alleged to be one of the main players in a network of recruiters and enablers who provided Epstein with underage girls to sexually abuseIn July, Maxwell filed a request to stop the unsealing of 2,000 pages connected to a defamation lawsuit filed against her by Virginia Giuffre, who has accused Epstein of keeping her as a sex slave when she was a teenager Giuffre claimed Maxwell directed her to have sex with people including former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, modeling agent Jean Luc Brunel and financier Glenn DubinMaxwell called the claims 'entirely false' and the case was settled out of courtGhislaine Maxwell, long-time consort of Jeffrey Epstein and the alleged procurer of victims in his underage sex trafficking ring, has been laying low in a New England beach town, DailyMail.com has learned exclusively.
Maxwell, 57, is in a relationship with Scott Borgerson, 43, and has been living with him at his secluded oceanfront property at the end of a long private road in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
The British socialite has been loath to leave the $3 million mansion, a source told DailyMail.com amid heightened focus on Epstein's alleged co-conspirators following the convicted pedophile's apparent suicide on Saturday.
'She's become a real homebody, rarely ventures out. She's the antithesis of the woman who traveled extensively and partied constantly with Epstein,' said a source familiar with Maxwell's new life.
Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, is hiding out at a secluded $3M oceanfront property in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, DailyMail.com can exclusively revealThe British socialite has been reluctant to leave the $3 million mansion (pictured), which is surrounded by trees and at the end of a long private road, a source told DailyMail.comThe property is owned by her tech CEO boyfriend Scott Borgerson, 43, who has been seen running errands in the area and walking Maxwell's dogBorgerson was seen walking Maxwell's dog on Boston Common near his apartment where he lives during the work weekMaxwell was a long-time consort of Jeffrey Epstein (pictured together in 2005) and an alleged procurer of victims in his underage sex trafficking ringLittle was known of Maxwell's whereabouts since she was last seen publicly three years ago as a multitude of reports claimed she had been living abroad, perhaps in London.
Her former townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was sold for $15 million in 2016, by a company with the same address as Epstein's New York office.
The spotlight has now swung to Maxwell, and other alleged co-conspirators of Epstein, following the convicted pedophile's apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail cell on Saturday.
Attorney General Bill Barr issued a stark warning to Epstein's cronies on Monday and made clear that federal investigators were coming for them.
'Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,' Barr said. 'The victims deserve justice and they will get it.'
Epstein, 66, was accused of arranging for girls, some as young as 14, to perform nude 'massages' and other sex acts, and of paying some of those girls to recruit others, between 2002 and 2005.
Epstein had employees who helped bring him girls, prosecutors have said, though none have been criminally charged.
Maxwell, 57, described as the 'madam of the house' by a former housekeeper at Epstein's mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, has strenuously denied any wrongdoing but reports now suggest she may be ready to co-operate with the authorities.
However, following Epstein's death, legal sources have said that many of those deals could now be off the table.
Former federal prosecutor, Jacob S. Frenkel, told the AP: 'Those who had leverage as potential cooperators in the case now find themselves as the primary targets.
'They no longer have anyone against whom to cooperate.'
Maxwell's lawyer, Jeff Pagliuca, has not responded to requests for an interview with Maxwell by DailyMail.com.
Borgerson was pictured last month running errands in the affluent community of Manchester-by-the-Sea, a half-hour drive from Boston. Borgerson declined to comment on his relationship with Maxwell when contacted by DailyMailTVBorgerson run his own company, Cargometrics, an investment management firm that specializes in analyzing data on global shippingBorgerson was seen walking Maxwell's dog on Boston Common near his apartment where he lives during the weekBorgerson lives at his apartment in Boston during the work week. Pictured is the stately apartment buildingThe socialite's New England hideaway is an imposing three-story colonial property with five-bedrooms, wraparound terraces and sweeping grounds which reach to the ocean'She's become a real homebody, rarely ventures out. She's the antithesis of the woman who traveled extensively and partied constantly with Epstein,' said a source familiar with Maxwell's new lifeMaxwell has not been seen publicly in around three years since she faded from the New York social scene she once reveled in with Epstein. In the wake of Epstein's apparent suicide on Saturday, the spotlight has now swung to Maxwell, and other alleged co-conspirators of Epstein'She's become a real homebody, rarely ventures out. She's the antithesis of the woman who traveled extensively and partied constantly with Epstein,' said a source familiar with Maxwell's new lifeThe socialite's New England hideaway is an imposing three-story colonial property with five-bedrooms, wraparound terraces and sweeping grounds which reach to the ocean. The property is owned by tech CEO and maritime academic Dr Scott Borgerson.
Borgerson was seen by DailyMail.com in July running errands in the affluent community of Manchester-by-the-Sea, a half-hour drive from Boston.
Later, he was seen walking Maxwell's dog on Boston Common near his apartment where he lives during the week while running his company, Cargometrics, an investment management firm that specializes in analyzing data on global shipping.
The former Coast Guard officer, is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was married and is believed to have two children.
Borgenson did not respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment when first contacted, but following publication he claimed: 'I'm traveling abroad for business. Ghislaine Maxwell is not at my home and I don't know where she is.'
Maxwell has not been seen publicly in around three years since she faded from the New York social scene she once reveled in with Epstein.
The British aristocrat facilitated Epstein's entry to the rarefied worlds of royalty, politics and celebrity, cementing his friendships with Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Woody Allen, to name a few.
Maxwell is the youngest child of the late newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. She attended the boarding school Marlborough College in Wiltshire, England, a favorite of the British elite, and went on to study at Oxford University.
In her twenties, she was a well-known face on London's social scene and founded the Kit Kat Club, an alternative to the old-school-tie network for high-powered women.
She worked for her father's newspaper, The European, and as the director of Oxford United Football Club while her father was owner.
Maxwell and Epstein partied with Donald Trump and Melania at Mar-A-Lago (pictured in 2000) and threw lavish dinners at Epstein's Upper East Side townhouse, attended by Woody Allen, Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, David Blaine and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, among othersMaxwell operated as part-girlfriend, part-employee, orchestrating Epstein's social life. Epstein supported Maxwell and helped her remain in the social position she had grown accustom to from her upbringing. Pictured: Epstein and Maxwellwith actress Carol Mack in 1995 in NYCIn 1991, Robert Maxwell drowned in mysterious circumstances after falling off his yacht named the Lady Ghislaine.
It emerged that his newspaper empire was built on the proceeds of epic criminality, which had seen him defraud its pension fund of almost half a billion pounds.
Vilified in the UK, where Robert Maxwell's victims were angered by the lavish lifestyle his family had enjoyed at their expense, his youngest daughter relocated to New York, where she took up residence in a small apartment, and set about re-inventing herself.
In the early Nineties, she took up with Epstein, a Gatsby-like financial whiz, who reportedly only managed the money of clients who could invest $1 billion. His sole publicly-named client is Les Wexner, the owner of L Brands which includes Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works.
Maxwell operated as part-girlfriend, part-employee, orchestrating Epstein's social life. Epstein supported Maxwell and helped her remain in the social position she had grown accustom to from her upbringing.
'Ghislaine floated in and out of the house with the keys, and even though Jeffrey told me they didn't have a sexual relationship, she'd drop under her breath that she was sleeping in his bed from time to time' one Epstein ex-girlfriend told Vanity Fair this week.
The pair partied with Donald Trump and Melania at Mar-A-Lago and threw lavish dinners at Epstein's Upper East Side townhouse, attended by Woody Allen, Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, David Blaine and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, among others.
The jet-setting financier also hobnobbed with Trump allies Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuchin and Rudy Giuliani at a Hamptons film screening in 2010, just two months after his release from prison in Florida.
It was revealed on Monday that Epstein bragged last year to a New York Times columnist about having 'dirt' on his rich and powerful associates.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, (pictured), claimed she was one of Jeffrey Epstein's sex slaves. She claims Maxwell instructed her to have sexual relations with several high-profile businessmenGiuffre says she was just 16 years old when she was recruited to work for EpsteinIn court documents, a former boyfriend alleges that she told him she took part in threesomes with Epstein and MaxwellGiuffre alleges that she was intimate with Prince Andrew on multiple occasions. She is pictured with Prince Andrew and Maxwell at Maxwell's London townhouse in 2001. Prince Andrew has denied these claims'The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it,' Times staffer James B. Stewart wrote.
'He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.'
In 2008, Epstein was offered a secret deal to avoid federal prosecution and pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting an underage girl for sex.
As part of that deal, federal prosecutors agreed not to charge 'any potential co-conspirators of Epstein'.
He served 13 months in county jail in Palm Beach, Florida and registered as a sex offender. During his sentence, he was allowed to work from his office most days.
The deal was cut by Alex Acosta, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He resigned from his current role as Trump's Secretary of Labor in the fallout from the Epstein case.
On July 6, FBI investigators broke down the doors of Epstein's $77 million New York home after he was arrested on his private jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey following a flight from Paris.
A search of Epstein's home turned up hundreds of pictures of nude women, some of them minors, along with cash, diamonds, valuable art and an expired Austrian passport with Epstein's face but someone else's name, claiming Saudi Arabia as place of residence, according Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Maxwell is alleged to be one of the main players in a network of recruiters and enablers who provided Epstein with those underage girls to sexually abuse.
In July, Maxwell filed a request with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking them to reconsider a decision made earlier in the month to unseal 2,000 pages connected to a civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Virginia Giuffre, who has accused Epstein of keeping her as a sex slave when she was a teenager.
One alleged victim of Esptein's, Sarah Ransome, filed a lawsuit in 2017, where she described Maxwell (pictured in New York City in 2015) as the 'highest-ranking employee' of Epstein's alleged sex-trafficking ringMaxwell allegedly trained recruiters, developed plans and concealed activity from law enforcement, according to court documentsEpstein hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan on Saturday just 24 hours after the 2,000 pages were unsealed. He is pictured in New York in JanuaryOn July 6, FBI investigators broke down the doors of Epstein's $77 million New York home (pictured) after he was arrested on his private jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey following a flight from ParisAccording to the filing, Maxwell's justification for keeping the documents sealed was the media's 'furious feeding frenzy' over the Epstein case.
Despite Maxwell's protests, the federal appeals court in Manhattan rejected her bid to keep them under seal and released some 2,000 pages of documents related to Giuffre's defamation suit on Friday.
In the newly-released documents, Giuffre claimed in a May 3, 2016, deposition that Maxwell directed her to have sex with people including former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, modeling agent Jean Luc Brunel and financier Glenn Dubin.
It was not clear from the deposition transcript included in the court documents how old Giuffre was at the time of the alleged direction. The transcript does not indicate whether Giuffre actually engaged in sex with the four men.
None of the four men has been criminally charged in connection with Epstein.
Richardson, Mitchell and Dubin, or their respective representatives, all told Reuters that the various allegations against them were false. A lawyer for Brunel did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
The name of President Trump, who was once a friend of Epstein, appears in a November 14, 2016, deposition of Giuffre, in which she said Trump and Epstein had been good friends.
In response to a question about how she knew whom Trump had sex with, Giuffre said she 'didn't physically see him have sex with any of the girls'.
Giuffre, now 35, alleges she was recruited by Maxwell to have sex with rich and powerful men in 2000 while, aged 16, she was working as a towel girl at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
Maxwell called the claims 'entirely false' and the case never went to trial.
Epstein hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan on Saturday just 24 hours after the 2,000 pages were unsealed.
The nature and timing of Epstein's death has prompted widespread speculation and is now the subject of a federal investigation.
A black bag believed to contain Epstein's body was pictured being taken out of New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan hospital on Saturday afternoonEpstein had been on 24-hour watch after he was hospitalized following an unsuccessful suicide attempt two weeks ago. The decision to remove Epstein from suicide watch is being investigatedIt has emerged that guards, who were supposed to be checking on Epstein every 30 minutes, had not looked in on him in hours. There are also questions as to why Epstein's cellmate had been moved, leaving him aloneIt has emerged that guards, who were supposed to be checking on Epstein every 30 minutes, had not looked in on him in hours. There are also questions as to why Epstein's cellmate had been moved, leaving him alone.
Epstein had been on 24-hour watch after he was hospitalized following an unsuccessful suicide attempt two weeks ago. The decision to remove Epstein from suicide watch is also being investigated.
Epstein had pleaded not guilty to federal charges of underage sex and sex trafficking of dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005. He faced 45 years in jail if convicted.
The 66-year-old was denied bail due to his vast resources and being deemed a flight risk.
Prosecutors told the court that Epstein had recently sent $350,000 to two people, including a former employee, and there were concerns he could attempt to influence witnesses in the case.
Some of Epstein's other accusers say that they were groomed by Maxwell and ordered to have sex with other men.
One alleged victim, Sarah Ransome, filed a lawsuit in 2017, where she described Maxwell as the 'highest-ranking employee' of Epstein's alleged sex-trafficking ring.
Maxwell allegedly trained recruiters, developed plans and concealed activity from law enforcement, according to court documents.
Jennifer Araoz came forward earlier this month and alleged that Epstein had raped her when she was 15. She claimed that in 2001, she was approached outside her Manhattan school by a friendly brunette woman in her twenties and told that Epstein wanted to meet her. She was 14 at the time.
'I feel like it was really well thought-out to really make me feel as comfortable as possible, to almost keep me coming back,' Araoz said in an interview on the Today show.
Araoz is one of the first alleged victims to file a lawsuit against his estate today.
In addition to Epstein's estate, Araoz is suing Maxwell and three female members of his household staff.
Araoz officially filed the lawsuit on Wednesday when New York's new Child Victims Act came into effect, which opens a one-year window for people to file lawsuits over alleged sexual abuse regardless of how long ago it occurred.
The 32-year-old's lawsuit is among the first of an expected wave of suits against Epstein following his apparent suicide.
All Eyes Are on Alleged Jeffrey Epstein Recruiter Ghislaine Maxwell '' Rolling Stone
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 14:56
Jeffrey Epstein is gone, and now everyone is looking for the heiress-apparent of his cache of secrets, the international woman of mystery, Ghislaine Maxwell. Authorities reportedly don't know where she is, but she appears to be in their sights. ''Let me assure you that case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,'' and that ''any co-conspirators should not rest easy,'' Attorney General William Barr said Monday.
The Department of Justice is now fully humiliated by, first, their lenient treatment of the convicted child sex trafficker, and then for letting him die in their custody. DOJ lawyers had cravenly agreed with Epstein's legal team in 2008 to keep the case quiet, but last year, dogged reporting from the Miami Herald's Julie Brown finally brought the trafficked women's stories to light. And last week, the day preceding Epstein's death, a New York court released over 2,000 pages of lurid details.
The documents emerged from a defamation case against Maxwell, brought by one of Epstein's accusers: Virginia Giuffre, who in 2015 went public with allegations of being procured at age 15 by Maxwell, repeatedly assaulted by Epstein and forced to have sex with powerful men including Prince Andrew (who has denied it).
Maxwell called the story ''obvious lies'' and for that, Giuffre sued her for defamation in 2016. Depositions in the case expose Ghislaine Maxwell's alleged crimes: Giuffre was fresh out of foster care and a rehab runaway when Maxwell allegedly started grooming her 20 years ago. Giuffre's lawyers also deposed other girls who accused Maxwell of procuring and grooming them for sex with Epstein and other men, backing up and expanding on Giuffre's trafficking story. Their depositions, and those of butlers, house managers and private pilots suggest an almost industrial-scale operation. The girls '-- now women '-- added more prominent names to the list of men alleged to have had sex with underage girls, including former Clinton Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, Sen. George Mitchell '-- who served as a fact finder for Clinton's Middle East peace process '-- and MIT artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky. (Mitchell and Richardson immediately denied the allegations; Minsky died in 2016.)
In the latest documents, one Manhattan billionaire's butler recalled encountering an unnamed 15-year-old Swedish girl who told him Maxwell took her passport after she refused to have sex with Epstein while on Jeffrey's private island. The girl was ''shaking uncontrollably'' and couldn't remember how she had gotten off the island and back to the U.S, he said.
Another witness-accuser, Johanna Sjoberg, recalled in a deposition how Maxwell appeared on the campus of Palm Beach Atlantic University, a small, private Christian school, in February or March of 2001. ''She approached and asked if I could tell her how to find someone to work at her house,'' Sjoberg testified. Sjoberg said she'd take the job herself. How was a Christian-college freshman to suspect a woman who spoke the Queen's English was out virgin hunting?
According to Sjoberg, textbook grooming commenced. A shopping trip to posh Worth Avenue, a visit to the mansion. Then a week later, a call '-- would Johanna like to earn $100 dollars to perform some foot rubs at the mansion? She went and soon found herself asked to strip, and lying on the massage table herself, to learn the best massage moves. In a few months, she said in the deposition, she was being called in to participate in threesomes with Jeffrey and Ghislaine or other girls in Epstein's coterie.
Maxwell, knowing Sjoberg was studying photography, eventually bought her a camera. But according to Sjoberg, there were strings attached. ''You cannot receive it yet because you didn't finish your job and I had to finish it for you,'' Sjoberg recalled her saying. ''She was implying that I did not get Jeffrey off and she had to do it.''
Eventually, she got the camera and was soon flying to Jeffrey's private island with other teen girls, to meet other men.
''She called us her children,'' Sjoberg recalled. ''At one point when we were in the islands we were all watching a movie and she called us her children.''
''Did she ever refer to herself as a mother?'' the lawyer asked.
''Yes, like a mother hen.''
In the latest documents, as she always has, Maxwell denies everything. (Maxwell's legal team did not respond to requests for comment.)
The lurid details '-- underage or barely of-age girls forced into threesomes, assaulted with sex toys, and according to one deposition account, getting to know Epstein's ''egg-shaped'' genitalia '-- transfixed social media for hours. Nasty Twitter plebes nicknamed the British socialite ''Ghiz'' making a public spectacle of a woman who, years after Epstein's Palm Beach imprisonment, was still maintaining a seemly front. ''I have been absolutely appalled by this story and appalled by the entire characterization of it and I apologize sincerely for my banging at the table,'' she says in one of the depositions, to lawyers who have already heard some two-dozen girls tell the same appalling story.
Of course, it was all supposed to remain '-- as the word stamped on every page of her own deposition reminds us '-- ''Confidential.''
How does a proper upperclass Englishwoman end up accused again and again of cruising '-- with a chauffeur behind the wheel '-- South Florida strip-mall massage parlors, ''spas,'' and tiny Christian college campuses hunting for teen girls with bad families or just out of rehab or in foster care?
Alliances between heiresses and serially sexually abusive men are not unheard of. Learjet heiress Pat Lear was a disciple of the guru known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who ran a sex cult in Oregon. The Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman poured millions into the NXVIM cult and then legal defense of sex slaver Keith Raniere. Patty Hearst took up arms with her Symbionese Liberation Army rapist.
It's not clear what drew these other heiresses to the abusers, but to begin to understand Ghislaine Maxwell, the place to start might be her dad.
Robert Maxwell's exploits in the underworld brought him in contact with some of the late Twentieth Century's most notorious global mobsters, and paid for the 53-room mansion on a 14-acre park overlooking Cambridge, where Ghislaine grew up. Born Jan Hoch to a peasant Czech family in in 1923, he grew up to be a member of British Parliament and owner of a major media company. But that was only the visible side of his. In their book Robert Maxwell: Superspy, British investigative journalists Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon claim that Maxwell was a conduit between the KGB, the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, and the emerging Russian kleptocrat oligarchy in the 1980s, creating some 400 companies that were used to launder the newly capitalist Slavs' dirty money.
The authors alleged Maxwell was in business with Russian mob kingpin Semyon Mogilevich, a 300 pound financial mastermind who has been compared to the Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs for the scale of his criminal empire. Mogilevich is on the FBI's ten most wanted list for a variety of sophisticated financial schemes, besides the standard mob businesses of trafficking in humans and drugs.
Maxwell was a prodigious patriarch '-- nine children by one wife '-- and baby Ghislaine was supposedly his favorite. He named his yacht the Lady Ghislaine, and was found dead near it, in 1990, under mysterious circumstances, after a series of criminal financial deals went bad. The cause of death remains murky, and Ghislaine Maxwell has said she doesn't believe he killed himself.
Ghislaine Maxwell moved to New York in 1991, and was soon a society fixture, hanging with the likes of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Donald Trump. Her boyfriend was Jeffrey Epstein. According to the defamation lawsuit, by the mid-1990s, she was hunting for troubled girls and grooming them for him. The girls told lawyers they thought Maxwell was Epstein's part-time girlfriend, who wanted them around because she couldn't keep up with his insatiable sexual requirements. She was soon running his houses in New York, Palm Beach, and the Virgin Islands.
As she cruised Florida strip malls, she was driven by Epstein's Palm Beach mansion manager, Juan Alessi. According to his deposition, he disliked her, and thought she was ''rotten spoiled.'' He also thought she and Epstein were ''like partners in business,'' he said. ''I don't know what kind of business but she was the one who organized I would say employment. So whatever I need, if I have some kind of problem, I contact her.''
Federal prosecutors have admitted in bail filings they don't know what Epstein actually did for money. But one clue lies in another lawsuit between Epstein and some of the accusers in Florida. An Epstein accountant testified that Epstein got his ''money start'' from Maxwell's father.
What is known is that with his stash of mystery money he built a wired-up sybaritic paradise for horny powerful men, stocked with sexually groomed young girls and women. He then became a keeper of their secrets, as he bragged to author James B. Stewart last year. ''The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it,'' Stewart wrote in the New York Times. ''He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.''
A lot of people knew what Epstein was into. Most have managed to keep hunkered down behind the hedge of lawyers. The legal documents dumped last week are just pieces of depositions, with many pages ending mid-sentence, presumably because those named in the missing pages are in Hail Mary legal mode, throwing last minute legal maneuvers at the judge to block their release.
Dead men don't talk. Live women, in the Epstein case, have been talking '-- but until recently they might as well have been dead too for all the legal system cared.
One Epstein associate could answer the questions that now, he never can. Her lawyers are both ''out of the country' and were unavailable for comment, according to the offices. But maybe soon, Ghislaine Maxwell will be forced out of the shadows to join her ''children'' in explaining who her late friend Jeffrey Epstein was and what he was doing.
Dawid Kostecki's Family & Friends Do Not Believe Suicide Claims - Boxing News
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 12:11
By Luke Furman
Family and friends of Dawid Kostecki do not believe the former fighter committed suicide in a Warsaw prison on August 2nd.
Prison officials claim Kostecki committed suicide by hanging with the use of bed sheets.
Kostecki's name was well known in Poland, but he received international attention back in 2012, when a scheduled fight against Roy Jones Jr. was set to take place in Poland - and then canceled at the last minute.
The bout got called off, only days before the contest was scheduled, because Kostecki was convicted of being the ringleader of a criminal organization and was imprisoned. Pawel Glazewski stepped in on very late notice, and lost a ten round decision to Jones.
Kostecki continued to have several brushed with law in the years to come.
He returned to prison again in Warsaw in 2016 for five years after his fifth conviction, for drug trafficking, car theft, running a prostitution escort ring, and income tax evasion.
Kostecki (39-2, 25 KOs) had his last fight in November 2014, when he lost an upset eight round decision to Andrzej Soldra.
Kostecki's family are getting lawyers involved to investigate the boxer's passing. He was scheduled to leave prison in two years.
Kostecki was said to have committed suicide in the morning of August 2. It's claimed that he hanged himself on a sheet, lying on a prison bunk. The inmates did not notice anything because Kostecki had covered himself with a blanket.
The director general of the Prison Service in Warsaw has already set up a team to clarify the circumstances of the death of the former boxer.
According to some of the conspiracy theories being kicked around, Kostecki was the target of certain figures in the criminal world and he was also an alleged target of politicians, who were being linked to using the boxer's escort services.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.
Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein's neck, deepening questions around his death - The Washington Post
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 15:01
Carol D. LeonnigNational investigative reporter focused on the White House and government accountability
August 15 at 5:31 AMAn autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein suffered multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings, deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death.
Among the bones broken in Epstein's neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam's apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.
The details are the first findings to emerge from the autopsy of Epstein, a convicted sex offender and multimillionaire in federal custody on charges of sex trafficking. He died early Saturday morning after guards found him hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and he could not be revived.
Attorney General William P. Barr, whose department oversees the Bureau of Prisons facility where Epstein died, has described his death as an ''apparent suicide.'' Justice officials declined to comment on the new information from Epstein's autopsy.
The office of New York City's chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, completed an autopsy of Epstein's body Sunday. But Sampson listed the cause of his death as pending.
Asked about the neck injuries, Sampson said in a statement that no single factor in an autopsy can alone provide a conclusive answer about what happened.
''In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death. Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum.''
The details add to the bizarre circumstances surrounding Epstein's death, which have launched a wave of questions and conspiracy theories about how he could have died in federal custody. Even President Trump has egged on speculation, without evidence, that Epstein '-- whose alleged victims say they were pushed to have sex with his powerful and celebrity friends '-- might have been killed to keep him from spilling the secrets of others.
The revelation of Epstein's neck injuries follows reports that officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center broke protocol and failed to properly monitor him.
Corrections officers had not checked on Epstein for ''several'' hours before he was found hanging in his cell, a person familiar with the matter said, one of a series of missteps in the hours leading up to his death.
Veteran prosecutors and law enforcement officials were shocked that one of the most high-profile inmates in the country wasn't more carefully watched. Barr said over the weekend he was ''appalled'' at serious ''irregularities'' in jail protocol, and he later transferred the warden to another facility.
The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. (Mary Altaffer/AP)People familiar with the autopsy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive stage of the investigation, said Sampson's office is seeking additional information on Epstein's condition in the hours before his death. That could include video evidence of the jail hallways, which may establish whether anyone entered Epstein's cell during the night he died; results of a toxicology screening to determine if there was any unusual substance in his body; and interviews with guards and inmates who were near his cell.
[Prince Andrew's connection to Jeffrey Epstein under new scrutiny following resurfaced allegations]
Jonathan L. Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, said a hyoid can be broken in many circumstances but is more commonly associated with homicidal strangulation than suicidal hanging.
Arden, who was not involved in the Epstein autopsy, said that in general, a finding of a broken hyoid requires pathologists to conduct more extensive investigation. That investigation can include analysis of the location of the noose, how narrow the noose is, and if the body experienced any substantial drop in the course of the hanging.
The age of the deceased is also important, Arden said. The hyoid starts out as three small bones with jointlike connections but hardens during middle age into a U-shape that can break more easily.
''If, hypothetically, the hyoid bone is broken, that would generally raise questions about strangulation, but it is not definitive and does not exclude suicidal hanging,'' he said.
A handful of studies conducted over the past decade have produced conflicting results about the likelihood of a hyoid break in a suicide. In a study of 20 suicidal hangings in Thailand, published in 2010, one-fourth of the men who hanged themselves had broken hyoids. In a larger study of suicidal hangings of young adults and middle-aged people in India, conducted from 2010 to 2013, hyoid damage was found in just 16 of 264 cases, or 6 percent. The study addressed the discrepancies in academic reviews, saying wide variations in findings of hyoid breaks are ''possibly due to factors like age of the victim, weight of the victim, type of suspension and height of suspension.''
Hyoid fractures have previously sparked controversy in jailhouse and other contentious deaths.
In 2008, Ronnie L. White, a teenager accused of killing a police officer, died of an apparent suicide in a suburban Washington jail cell. But two days later, the cause of death was changed to homicide when a Maryland state medical examiner discovered the teen had a broken hyoid.
The incident fanned racial tension and fueled conspiracy theories about the suspect's death in Prince George's County, Md.
Medical examiners concluded White was probably strangled with a sheet, towel or ''crux of the elbow.'' The officer who moved his body pleaded guilty to obstruction. But no one was ever charged in White's death. A federal judge said in 2013 that it remained a mystery whether the inmate was slain or took his own life.
The hyoid bone played a central role in a heated dispute last year over another high-profile death in New York, that of Eric Garner. A New York police officer was accused of using an improper chokehold while trying to arrest Garner and of causing his death. A police officers' association claimed that an autopsy from Sampson's office found there was no break of Garner's hyoid bone, and that this proved that the officer could not have strangled Garner and caused his death.
This ''demonstrates conclusively that Mr. Garner did not die of strangulation of the neck from a chokehold,'' the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said.
But Sampson rejected that claim, saying she stood by her conclusion that Garner died of ''compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.'' Sampson's office said Garner's bronchial asthma, obesity and high blood pressure were contributing factors.
In a widely circulated video of the 2014 incident, the officer was seen grabbing Garner around the neck, pushing him and his face into the pavement. Garner is overheard pleading several times: ''I can't breathe.''
Two weeks later, Sampson's office concluded the officer's actions were the primary cause of his death.
Julie Tate contributed to this report.
Measuring the Child-Porn Trade - WSJ
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 10:59
Unlike, say, the soft-drink or airline industries, the child-pornography industry doesn't report its annual sales to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Yet in a press release ahead of a recent House of Representatives hearing aimed at curbing the industry, Texas Republican Joe Barton said, "Child pornography is apparently a multibillion … my staff analysis says $20 billion-a-year business. Twenty billion dollars." Some press reports said the figure applied only to the industry's online segment. The New York Times reported, "the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet is a $20 billion industry that continues to expand in the United States and abroad," citing witnesses at the hearing. (The Online Journal's Real Time column also quoted the estimate from the hearing.)
My efforts this week to track down the number's source -- and free-lance journalist Daniel Radosh's similar quest on his blog -- yielded lots of dead ends. It turns out it can be easier to enter a big number into the Congressional record, and national press coverage, than to locate its origin. (Numbers Guy reader Brian Flanagan suggested I look into the estimate.)
What was Rep. Barton's staff analysis? A spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee told me the source of the number was the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a group that advocates for the protection of children. When I first talked with that group's president, Ernie Allen, he told me that Standard Chartered bank, which has worked with the NCMEC to cut off funding to child-porn traffickers, wanted a quantitative analysis of the problem, so it asked for a measurement from consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Mr. Allen faxed me an NCMEC paper that cites the McKinsey study in placing the child-porn industry at $6 billion in 1999, and $20 billion in 2004.
But a McKinsey spokesman painted a different picture for me: "The number was not calculated or generated by McKinsey," he wrote in an email. Instead, for a pro bono analysis for Standard Chartered, he said, McKinsey used a number that appeared in a report last year by End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, an international advocacy group.
But the trail didn't end there: That report, in turn, attributed the number to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as did a report last year from the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg, France-based human-rights watchdog. Both of those reports noted that estimates range widely, from $3 billion to $20 billion.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told me in an email, "The FBI has not stated the $20 billion figure... . I have asked many people who would know for sure if we have attached the $20 billion number to this problem. I have scoured our Web site, too. Nothing!"
I went back to the NCMEC Monday and shared what I found. In an email response, spokeswoman Joann Donnellan said, "If it is determined that this ends up not being a reliable statistic, NCMEC will stop citing McKinsey as the source and will also stop citing a specific number. Rather, NCMEC will revert to what it has said previously… that commercial child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry."
This isn't the first number from the NCMEC that struck me as questionable. The group provided the estimate that one in five children is sexually solicited online, which appeared in public-service ads distributed by the Ad Council. The stat has received a fresh round of publicity thanks to donated air time from MySpace, a site popular with teens. As I wrote last year, the "one in five" estimate was based on research that was five years old which only covered children who spent time online. The survey also used a broad definition of sexual solicitation. Yet the stat persists. The NCMEC told me last July it hoped to have new research by the end of last year. Now, spokeswoman Tina Schwartz says the group expects new research to be released in the next couple of months.
* * *As Congress debates whether to pass new laws specifically outlawing online gambling, a recent poll appears to show that the public is strongly against the legislative effort: Almost 80% of Americans oppose a ban, according to the survey.
The poll was conducted by well-known polling firm Zogby International on behalf of an online gambling trade group. As I've written in the past, such sponsored research warrants extra scrutiny from readers, though the fact that the poll was commissioned by a special-interest group isn't by itself a reason to dismiss it.
Still, in this case, it appears that the sponsor of the poll influenced the way it was conducted, particularly in the way the questions were phrased. Here's one question: "Many gambling experts believe that Internet gambling will continue no matter what the government does to try to stop it. Do you agree or disagree that the federal government should allocate government resources and spend taxpayer money trying to stop adult Americans from gambling online?" Some 77% of respondents disagreed.
Here's another question: "More than 80% of Americans believe that gambling is a question of personal choice that should not be interfered with by the government. Do you agree or disagree that the federal government should stop adult Americans from gambling with licensed and regulated online sports books and casinos based in other countries?" You probably won't be surprised to learn that after being told that most Americans don't want the government to interfere, some 71% of the respondents to this question signaled they, too, were against a government ban.
The results of the poll were posted on the gambling trade group's Web site and emailed to journalists.
The gambling questions "were fair and balanced, and gave the respondent appropriate choices," Fritz Wenzel, spokesman for Zogby International, told me in an email. (Zogby does many political polls separate from interest-group-backed research, including polling on the 2004 presidential race and 2006 gubernatorial and Senate races for the Online Journal.)
Polling experts disagreed when I showed them the poll. Cliff Zukin, president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, a professional association of pollsters, told me the questions are "loaded and biased." Prof. Zukin added that if any of his students at Rutgers University wrote such questions, "I would fail them."
Robert Blumenfeld, an El Paso, Texas-based attorney for the Antiguan Offshore Gaming Association, told me the trade group paid "less than $10,000" for the poll. The Antiguan group, which represents more than a dozen online casinos, drafted the questions with guidance from Zogby, Mr. Blumenfeld said. He disagreed with the suggestion that the phrasing of the questions might have influenced the results, but said the group would conduct further polling. "We're willing to put the question in a way that can't be subject to any kind of criticism," Mr. Blumenfeld said.
Mr. Blumenfeld said the group is using the results of the poll in its lobbying efforts to fight an online gambling ban.
It's not unusual for pollsters to conduct polls for hire. Many pollsters make their reputations with political polling, and make their money with sponsored polling. Still, Zogby's poll didn't meet certain standards set by the polling professional association headed by Prof. Zukin, which say, among other things, that pollsters should ask unbiased questions.
Zogby International and its chief executive, John Zogby, are well known in the polling world. Yet Mr. Zogby has at times lent his firm's credibility to polls conducted for sponsors and filled with leading questions, as a New Yorker profile in 2004 noted. One poll funded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked respondents if they would stop eating meat or dairy products "if you knew that within days of birth, chickens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade to keep them from pecking each other in their overly crowded cages?"
Other Zogby polls addressing gambling have had conflicting results. A poll conducted by Zogby on behalf of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, in 2004, found that 67% of respondents said that expanding gambling by the State of New York will definitely or probably increase the number of people with gambling problems.
The Zogby poll wasn't the only recent survey on online gambling to include what I'd consider leading questions. A Harris Interactive online poll, conducted in February and mentioned in several news outlets (including the Online Journal) found -- among other things -- that 27% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement "since there is no effective way to regulate or control Internet gambling, it should remain illegal," and 27% of respondents somewhat agreed.
The phrasing of that question seems to make an assumption (the impossibility of regulation) that could have influenced responses. Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, told me that the question was deliberately designed to "see how different arguments played." He said he wouldn't use the response to that particular question, which he called "projective," to determine whether people support legalizing online gambling. "In any release we do, we are fair and balanced, but any single projective question may not be," Mr. Taylor said, adding that the poll wasn't sponsored.
* * *Several readers wrote in about my column last week on the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. Here's an excerpt from one letter:
As a result of my own experience attempting to estimate the number of workers employed in California seasonal agricultural work during my Ph.D. research, I feel qualified to doubt the validity of any estimation method based on the U.S. census of population. While attempting to use census data from rural California counties to estimate the accuracy of two different state employment service reports on agricultural employment, I encountered discrepancies among the three sources of as much as 300%, with the census data always being the lowest. Conversations with friends in the urban Chicano community confirmed my suspicion that illegal residents were effectively avoiding enumeration. Perhaps the data collection has improved, but it's doubtful that people who want to avoid government scrutiny will make themselves available.
'--Sue Hayes, professor of economics, Sonoma State University
Several readers also wrote in about my comment that scientific notation is likely to be adopted soon after the U.S. adopts the metric system:
We've lost enough dollars and lives because of continuing confusion between our systems of inches vs. millimeters and pints vs. liters, but the idea of mass re-education of the entire American public and mass retooling of manufacturing is frightening.
'--Pearl Ladenheim
I would like to suggest a column on the status of metric conversion in the U.S. Is there hope or are we going to continue to bury our heads in 10 tons of sand (which is 20,000 pounds or 10,000 kilograms which, in turn, is 22,000 lbs)?
'--Richard J. Behling
And finally, I got this letter about an Associated Press article on a Malaysian man who received a $218 trillion phone bill.
Of course it's amusing that the man received an absurdly high phone bill. But the really funny part, in my opinion, is the AP journalist's analysis: "It wasn't clear whether the bill was a mistake, or if [the] phone line was used illegally." $218 trillion?!? Hmm... I think it's pretty clear.
'--Ray Weaver
Write to Carl Bialik at numbersguy@wsj.com
Corrections & Amplifications:
A letter in an earlier version of this column incorrectly stated the number of pounds, or kilograms, in a ton.
To Catch Government Workers With Ties to Child Porn, Call the IRS
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 11:00
by Lori Handrahan, Ph.D.
Last week the IRS decided to award Bradley Birkenfeld his $104 million dollar share for helping bust UBS bank. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and his staff were instrumental. Senator Grassley vowed to delay pending Department of Treasury nominations if the IRS Whistleblower Program, he wrote the legislation in 2006, continued to be mismanaged.
This powerful voice from Iowa has been a beacon in the storm during an Obama Administration that has targeted whistleblowers and prevented accountability as never before. The Pentagon is also under Senator Grassley's fire for failing to examine 1,700 of the 5,200 reports of employees doing child porn. The Pentagon claimed it ''wasn't a priority.'' Senator Grassley and his staff have made it one. The closed investigation into wide-spread use of child porn at the Pentagon is now re-opened.
There is a national crisis of federal employees engaged in the child porn industry and a related epidemic at the state level. I've documented two states, Vermont and Maine, that appear to be running state protected child trafficking rings with evidence of cops, judges, lawyers, clergy and government employees covering for each other. This kind of racketeering creates powerful, and extremely profitable, pedophile rings.
Money drives the crime. It is estimated that a criminal willing to molest a child in front of a live webcam can earn $1,000 a night. In Kittery Maine, at the ''Danish Health Club,'' one bust yielded $6.1 million in ''door fees'' over a five year period with ''prostitutes'' earning $12 million. Pimps' earnings were not reported. The ''door man'' was a retired police officer whose wife worked in back. This bust happened because of one hard-working IRS agent, Rod Giguere.
An estimated $1.4 billion has been collected by the IRS's Whistleblower program since 2006; $464 million collected in 2010 but only $48 million in 2011. Half of all global child porn is produced in America. Ten new images of children are posted daily. Estimates of the global profits from child porn range from $3-20 billion. Imagine what the IRS Whistleblower program could collect if they focused on child trafficking as Agent Rod Giguere did in Maine.
The Department of Justice (DOJ)'s Child Exploitation and Obscenities unit has been, by many accounts, totally disabled under US Attorney General Eric Holder. Mr. Holder even refused to prosecute his own Assistant United States Attorney caught doing child porn on DOJ computers. The IRS wants 4,000 new agents and a $300 million budget to enforce ObamaCare. Instead, these resources should be allocated, entirely, for an IRS Child Exploitation & Trafficking Unit.
With so many police, judges, clergy, state and federal employees across America involved in the child porn industry Americans should be able to turn to the IRS's Whistleblower program. Richard Weber, Chief of IRS's Criminal Division in Washington DC, is one point of contact. Apparently, the IRS cares about trafficked children. That's good news because America's Attorney General, Eric Holder, does not.
Child trafficking and porn are the fastest growing crimes in America. With billions being laundered in black money it makes solid economic sense for the IRS to focus on the child porn industry. Eric Holder's Department of Justice has demonstrated they have no interest in prosecuting pedophiles, not even their own. The IRS should be given substantial resources to compensate for DOJ's disgraceful failure. American tax-payers, not to mention America's children, will reap huge rewards.
Perhaps Senator Grassley will raise his powerful voice in support.
Lori Handrahan, Ph.D., is a professor at American University's School of International Service researching the national and international security ramifications of America's child porn industry. She can be reached at handraha@american.edu
FBI Records: The Vault '-- Jeffrey Epstein
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 14:20
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Is Jeffrey Epstein's Zorro Ranch Insulated? | coreysdigs.com
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 19:01
There is a side to Zorro Ranch that is not being told. The fox is surrounded by the well-connected King family on all sides, a solar station to the west, and Hollywood to the north. Child sex trafficking is at the center of the Epstein investigation, but there may be much more going on than meets the eye, and Zorro ranch appears to be insulated.
' Jeffrey Epstein purchased the New Mexico ranch from Gov. Bruce King in 1993 '' the year Bill Clinton became President '' Jim Baca was brought on by Clinton and Bill Richardson worked with Clinton on the NAFTA passage '' both of which received thousands in campaign contributions from Epstein.
' Over 20,000 acres of Hollywood landscape sits just north of Epstein's land, purchased by fashion designer Tom Ford in 2001 '' another name in Epstein's black book.
' In addition to Epstein giving over $50,000 in campaign funds to former AG Gary King, the King family's land surrounds Zorro Ranch on all sides, and their political and defense connections go all the way up to ballistic missiles .
Jeffrey Epstein was taken into custody on July 6, 2019 on charges of sex trafficking minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
The indictment states he conspired with others to carry out these acts.
In creating and maintaining this network of minor victims in multiple states to sexually abuse and exploit, Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, worked and conspired with others, including employees and associates who facilitated his conduct by, among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein at the New York Residence and at the Palm Beach Residence.
Whereas they do not specify his New Mexico ranch in the indictment, Zorro Ranch is being investigated by New Mexico authorities who are assisting federal authorities in New York. They are currently interviewing people who allege they were abused by Epstein at the ranch. In a 2015 court filing in Florida, Epstein was accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl in New Mexico and other locations.
In 2008 Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in a plea deal that only required him to spend 13 months in jail, of which he served most of in his Palm Beach office on ''work release.'' There were dozens of victims, a 50-page indictment on sex trafficking charges that was shelved, and a secret plea deal that concealed the full extent of his crimes and granted immunity to any potential co-conspirators. It stunk, and is now in the spotlight again. A judge recently ruled for the unsealing of up to 2,000 pages of judicial documents to show evidence of whether Epstein and his partner Ghislaine Maxwell were recruiting underage girls in an international sex trafficking operation.
Epstein's connections are vast,ranging from the Hollywood elite to billionaires, politicians, and presidents. Beforegetting into the political ''resumes'' which surround this ranch, take a look atthe overall landscape to get a visual sense of the lay of the land.
The Lay of The Land Surrounding Zorro RanchEpstein purchased Zorro Ranch, consisting of nearly 8,000 acres, in 1993 from former Gov. Bruce King. It is assumed he purchased it under his real name at that time, but I was unable to trace the records from 1993. However, the Santa Fe County Assessor's records do reflect Jeffrey Epstein under Zorro Ranch Trust in 2011, which later switched to Cypress Inc. in 2013. Though his name is not indicated on the Cypress Inc. records, the New Mexico State Land office provided the state AG's office with documents indicating that Cypress Inc. is owned by Jeffrey Epstein. In fact, they are currently looking into 1,244 acres of state trust land that Cypress Inc. has leased since 1997.
According to county records, he began constructing a stable, detached garages, and homes in 1994, and began building his 33,339 square foot mansion in 1999. What an interesting number to land on for square feet. Of course, by the time the multiple porches and patios were added, the overall square footage of this monstrosity came to 57,420.
It has been reported that the Kings stillown land surrounding Epstein's property, but it wasn't stated as to just howmuch land, which Kings, and where those parcels are located. Nor do they seemto be reporting on the extensive land mass to the north, used by Hollywood forfilming over 30 movies, and purchased by Tom Ford in 2001, who just so happensto be included in Epstein's little black book.
Below is a map detailing all of the parcels with their respective owners. To be clear, the Kings own land under many names. Also note that the State of New Mexico owns land adjacent in addition to a chunk of land right smack in the middle of Epstein's parcel. There are two smaller parcels also owned by Cypress/Epstein, indicated on the map that both fall within his overall large parcel. And, Alexander LLC is in fact a small representation of the bigger land just to the north that is also under the name Alexander LLC, which makes up the large parcel used for Hollywood movies.
Why is this so significant that politicians, government, and Hollywood all insulate Epstein's property? Because there has been victim testimony alleging that they were taken to his ranch in Mexico and sexually abused, which is now under investigation. How is it that no one knew this was taking place? And the bigger question is, what else may have been happening at this ranch?
Points of Interest:1) Wedged between Bill King's parcel and Epstein's is a parcel owned by New Mexico Solar Station LLC, which is interesting because it was purchased in 2006, yet the land remains vacant. The organizer listed on this parcel is Max Lee Kiehne, a longtime Santa Fe rancher and owner of Centerfire Property among other ventures. He was a 2010 campaign donor to Gary King, and serves on a committee for the NM Cattle Grower's Association along with Bill King. Kiehne graduated Harvard in 1968, and seems to have a fascination with space based on his twitter account. He only follows 33 individuals and organizations on twitter, and in addition to the astronauts, NASA, and space related pages, he also follows Bill Gates, Virgin, and Richard Branson.
Michihiko Takahashi is listed as the agent on the New Mexico Solar Station LLC, and also works in real estate for Kiehn's Centerfire Property. He graduated the University of New Mexico and worked as a financial manager for Raycom Media Inc. and was the CFO for KASA, which is a local television broadcast station.
What's not clear is what this solarstation is for and why the land has sat vacant since 2006. What's curious is,there would appear to be some form of broadcasting setup on Epstein's land justeast of this ''solar station'' parcel.
In reviewing all of this, one can't help but flash back to last year's FBI lockdown of the solar observatory in Sunspot, in southern New Mexico, with a telescope that is overseen by the New Mexico State University. The alleged story being purported by the news is that a complete FBI lockdown, along with a Blackhawk helicopter, and closing of a post office was the result of a potential pedophile working there. Not much detail surfaced thereafter.
2) Here's where it gets interesting. Epstein has an airstrip and hanger at the south end of the property, yet there are two Cessnas stashed 2.85 miles north, just over the ridge at the far northwest end of his property. There is also a dirt road leading to that end where two homes sit. It's a short walk from the furthest home up over the ridge to the planes. Why are these two planes not located in the hanger right next to the airstrip? Notice their position in relation to the trees around them and the ridge itself.
2 Homes at base of ridge just south of planes(Update 7/27/19: After this article was published, it was suggested that these planes may very well have been flying over, were captured on satellite, and created an optical illusion that they are at ground level. This is entirely plausible.)
3) The State of New Mexico owns a section of land right smack in the middle of Epstein's parcel. The land is entirely vacant with exception of this structure built into the ground at the southern end. Being unable to determine exactly what this is, one would think a government employee might be required to visit this structure at times, which would take them straight through Epstein's property.
4) The ''ranch'' portion at the main entrance of Zorro Ranch is outfitted with a stable, paddocks, and other facilities, yet in this aerial view it wouldn't appear as though there are any animals on site. In fact, the entire ''ranch'' seems to be devoid of animals. Perhaps they are no longer on premise, or there are animals inside the stable? The mansion resides further up Zorro Ranch Road to the north.
5) Without being an expert on fracking, it would appear that these could be potential fracking areas throughout Epstein and the King's parcels. New Mexico is currently the third largest producer of oil in the US, though fracking seems to be in the hot seat right now. Perhaps they've had success and brought in a stream of revenue from this?
6) Whereas several reports reflect a photo of a labyrinth behind Epstein's mansion, based on aerial footage from January 8, 2018, it would not appear to be three-dimensional at all. In fact, it looks much like paint with a pile of rocks on top of the ''shrubs'' with dirt tracks rolling across it as well. Even if the grass and shrubs died off and they let it go, it seems strange that it would take on this appearance. Given the background of those surrounding this property, as documented further down, it gives one pause as to what might be underneath this section of land. This is curious, as the same thing was observed at the tennis courts on his Little St. James Island. This first photo was published by Reuters, and the labyrinth appears to be three-dimensional and legit, but there is no date on it, so it's hard to say how old this photo might be. Perhaps it was dressed up for when they hosted big functions and weddings at the property years back? The photos following Reuters photo represent what satellite images show from 2018.
7) Just north of Epstein's property is again bordered by land owned by the King family, as indicated in the map shown at the beginning. Just after that is the land listed as Alexander LLC, which represents several smaller parcels (some not highlighted in red below) along with a very large parcel, which encapsulates leased and deeded land, an airstrip and hanger, ranch, and the Silverado movie set. Over 30 movies have been filmed across this land. In 2001 fashion designer Tom Ford purchased this 20,000+ acres of the beautiful Cerro Pelon Ranch. Ford is listed in Epstein's black book. Is it any wonder as to how they know one another? Additional information and photos of this land can be viewed here, which hosts an interesting map overlay on Manhattan and Central Park, NYC.
The King FamilyFormer Gov. Bruce King sold Jeffrey Epstein this nearly 8,000 acre family ranch for $12 million in 1993. Why let go of family property, while maintaining ownership of the land surrounding it? King passed away in 2009.
King served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and spent a life in politics beginning in the early 1950's when he worked on Senator Dennis Chavez's campaign. He was elected to the Santa Fe County Commission in 1954 and served two terms. He went on to serve five terms in the New Mexico House of Representatives and three terms as Speaker of the House. In 1970 he was elected to his first term as Governor and proceeded to serve two additional terms in 1978 and 1990. He also served on several boards, was active in the Boy Scouts of America, and served as the Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party and Vice-Chair of the National Governor's Association.
Bruce married his wife Alice Marie Martin King in 1947. Alice passed away in 2008. Alice had an extensive background in advocating for the children of New Mexico. She served as Chair of the Juvenile Justice Council, worked with the Juvenile Justice Task Force to review the New Mexico children's code, and chaired the Governor's Task Force on Children and Families, as First Lady. The task force created the first-in-the-nation Children, Youth and Families Department. She also worked with educators and led several summits on the education system. She served on numerous boards of charitable foundations. She was a member of the board of directors for the New Mexico Boys Ranch and spearheaded the effort to establish the New Mexico Girls Ranch. She created the New Mexico Children's Foundation in 1992, which is a state-wide grant-making organization that has funded 165 small non-profit children's organizations throughout New Mexico. Gary King is the President of the Board.
Bruce King had two brothers, Sam and Don,who also own a lot of land in New Mexico, some of which surrounds the Epsteinranch. Sam, Don, and Bruce's son Bill own King Butane Company since 2009 andBill is a licensed truck driver since 1991.
Yolanda Jones King and former New Mexico AG Gary KingThe other son of Bruce King, Former AG of New Mexico Gary King, served from2007 to 2015. Prior to that he served as a democratic New Mexico StateLegislature for 12 years, from 1987-1998.
' Aside from Gary's background inpolitics, he has a law degree and previously maintained a private practice, andhas a PhD in organic chemistry.
' In 1990 King served as CorporateGeneral Counsel and Senior Environmental Scientist with Advanced Sciences, Inc.which is an environmental consulting firm that works with industrial andgovernment clients. It was acquired by Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc. in1996.
' In 1997 Gary and his wife purchasedseven timeshares at the Marriott Kauai Beach Club in Lihue, HI.
' In 1998 he became the Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington D.C., then rose to the position of the Director of the Office of Worker and Community Transition just one year later.
' In 2006 he was elected as New Mexico Attorney General.
' AG Gary King initiated the New Mexico Human Trafficking Task Force which is headed by the Office of the Attorney General and has a dedicated human trafficking unit within its special investigations division. They work with Life Link, a service provider offering emergency assistance, housing, substance abuse, mental health treatment, employment and other supportive systems. They also work with state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The office of the Attorney General was awarded a grant for this task force.
' He spearheaded legislation to make thepractice of human trafficking a felony crime, and was invited to Geneva,Switzerland by a United Nations committee to present this legislation as amodel for other nations.
' He has served as chair of the Manzano District of the Boy Scouts of America, and is president on the board for his mother's foundation '' the New Mexico Children's Foundation.
' King received $15,000 from Epstein in 2006 for his run at AG. According to some reports, in 2006, following Epstein's arrest, King gave back $15,000 that an Epstein company called The Zorro Trust had contributed to his campaign for attorney general. Yet, he went on to accept another $35,000 from firms linked to Epstein in his 2014 run for Governor. King had said they would look into it and stated, ''I don't think I've ever met him personally. He knows other members of my family better.''
Gary King is married to Yolanda Jones King, a woman with a very extensive and impressive background.
' Received her BS cum laude in chemistryand PhD in physical chemistry (chemical laser kinetics) from the University ofNew Mexico in 1981.
' In 1978 she worked on Bruce King'scampaign run. In 1987 Gary and Yolanda married.
' 32 Years in the U.S. Air Force workingin research, management of research, development of programs, resourcemanagement, and program planning.
' She holds a patent in beam sensingtechniques.
' She has numerous publications andpresentations on directed energy and space technologies.
' Served as the Director of Engineering& Technical Management at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at KirtlandAFB.
' Head of the space based sensing andsatellite protection technologies at the Space Vehicles Directorate of the U.S.Air Force Research Laboratory for three years, then moved to the AFNWC.
' Served as chair for the NATO RTOSensors ad Electronics Technology Panel. She traveled to meetings in Slovenia,Romania, Poland, France, Taiwan, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republicwhile in that position, and Gary accompanied her.
' Was the Director of the InternationalOffice for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Washington, D.C.
' Was responsible for management of allBallistic Missile Defense Organization technology programs and oversight of allAir Force Science and Technology programs for the Phillips Laboratory Commanderand AFSTC Commander.
' 1999-2011 Served on the Board of Trustees for the University of New Mexico Foundation. Yolanda and Gary donated between $10,000 '' $24,999 between 2008-2009. Other donors include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lockheed Martin, big pharma companies and banks, Walmart, numerous foundations and estates, and the Navajo Nation donated over $1 million.
' 2019 '' New Mexico Senate Democrats confirmed Yolanda to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Board of Regents.
' Her campaign contributions are primarily to women, with the most recent to Tulsi Gabbard's presidential run, from Hawaii.
A Few of Yolanda's Publishings and Symposiums:
Negative deuterium ion thermal energy measurements in a volume ion source
Co-chair at the NATO symposium on Advanced Sensor Payloads UAV
1989 Weapons Laboratory Air Force Systems Command '' Kirtland Air Force Base: Experimental Investigation of Relationship Between Nonlinear Field Energy and Emittance Growth.
2003 Air Force Research Laboratory Success Stories
Epstein Campaign Money to Other New Mexico CandidatesIn 2006 Epstein donated $10,000 to Jim Baca's campaign for New Mexico stateland commissioner. It is being reported, that after Epstein's conviction, Bacaeither donated the money to charities or returned the money. That said, Bacawas twice elected New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands, serving from 1983 to1986, and again from 1991 to 1993. In 1993 BillClinton began his presidency, Jeffrey Epstein purchased the New Mexicoranch from former Gov. Bruce King, and Baca was appointed Director of theBureau of Land Management by Clinton, and was fired the following year. Thereare two BLM parcels butted up to Epstein's property at the north end.
Epstein also contributed $50,000 to each of former Gov. Bill Richardson's gubernatorial campaigns, who served as New Mexico's Governor from 2003 to 2011. According to reports, Richardson recalls visiting Epstein's New Mexico ranch only once during his run for governor in 2002. Richardson is also listed in Epstein's little black book. It is no coincidence that Richardson was also appointed the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary by former President Bill Clinton. It's also no coincidence that him and Bill Clinton became friends after working closely on sealing NAFTA's passage in 1993.
Is This A Bigger Operation?How is it political figures who arefighting for harsher laws for human trafficking, creating a human traffickingtask force, a community children's foundation, and have worked at the highestlevels of defense in our country, are completely blind to the actions of a manand his co-conspirators, who coincidentally owns their father's land rightsmack in the middle of all of theirs? And then, to go on and accept campaignfunds, long after he was a convicted sex offender, is rather astonishing.
He funded the Governors, AGs, Land Commissioners, and likely others, for decades. To say that this tight-knit group of politicians, including former President Bill Clinton '' who traveled on Epstein's plane 26 times '' were not involved in some level of conspiracy, would be foolish at best. To suggest that deeply connected politicians, defense connections, and Hollywood all surrounding Epstein's ranch, is not suspect, would be even more foolish. Things aren't looking too bright for the Clintons, especially with their long list of connections to child sex traffickers and pedophiles. This also raises more questions as to what the Clintons, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, George Soros and numerous others are up to on the islands in the Caribbean, which is rife with child trafficking.
The magic year was 1993. Bill Clintonbecame president, Gov. Bruce King setup Jeffrey Epstein in the center of hisother parcels in New Mexico, Jim Baca was appointed the director of the Bureauof Land Management by Clinton, and Bill Richardson was working hard on NAFTAalongside Bill. Epstein was lining everyone's pockets, and one by one, theywere added to his little black book. And this is just a glance into New Mexico'sZorro Ranch connections. Epstein's other connections and locations add layerafter layer of high-level government ties, making it undeniable that there aremuch bigger plays in action. The thought of blackmail, human trafficking, drugtrafficking, gun trafficking, experimentation, and other nefarious actions cometo mind when taking all factual reports and stacking them up to one another.Indeed, this is conspiracy at the highest levels '' and as the indictment suggests­'' co-conspirators are most definitely involved.
Denied bail, Epstein remains in federal custody pending trial, and was recently found injured and in a fetal position in his cell, with reports swirling about a potential suicide or attempted murder by a former police officer who is serving time for running a drug ring, murdering four people, and burying them in his yard. Whatever proves to be true, one thing is for certain '' all the King's horses and all the King's men can't put Epstein together again.
Read about Jeffrey Epstein's St. Thomas Network, Comms, And An Elite School
''They're Nothing, These Girls'': Unraveling the Mystery of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's Enabler | Vanity Fair
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 01:49
Is it possible prosecutors have lost track of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's alleged co-conspirator in his pedophile ring? For the past few weeks, rumors have circulated that she's 400 pounds and living in Florida, or that she's living the high life in London or the Continent, but according to the Washington Post, authorities are having a hard time locating her. Those who know her say that it's possible she is as much of a Houdini as Epstein. Both of them liked having secrets, and the way those secrets kept people off balance. ''Jeffrey always wanted to give the impression that he was an international man of mystery'--'I control everyone and everything, I collect people, I own people, I can damage people,''' says an ex-girlfriend.
As part of Epstein's original plea deal, negotiated with Alexander Acosta, the others implicated were also given immunity from prosecution, which is partly why victims like Virginia Roberts Giuffre pursued her and others in civil courts. But Epstein's death has not stopped the current investigation. ''We remain committed to standing for you,'' Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote in a statement after Epstein's death, ''and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment'--which included a conspiracy count'--remains ongoing.'' There were rumors on Monday afternoon that indictments of five people were imminent.
The nature of the relationship between Epstein and Maxwell, the favorite daughter of embezzling press baron Robert Maxwell, who died when he fell or was pushed from his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, is not well known. Multiple victims claim she was both part of the sex trafficking ring, often bringing girls to Epstein, and a sexual participant. But Epstein told of-age women he courted that Maxwell was a former girlfriend fallen on hard times, and that he had taken it upon himself to maintain her position in society. ''Ghislaine floated in and out of the house with the keys, and even though Jeffrey told me they didn't have a sexual relationship, she'd drop under her breath that she was sleeping in his bed from time to time,'' says an ex-girlfriend. Another woman in Maxwell's orbit says she used to joke about keeping herself rail thin because Epstein liked thin girls. Maxwell, whose father was Jewish, liked to shock. ''She said, 'I do it the way Nazis did it with the Jews, the Auschwitz diet. I just don't eat.'''
The sinister depravity of Epstein's sexual world, and Maxwell's role in enabling it, was mostly kept hidden. The two were fixtures on a certain rarefied Manhattan circuit. Epstein was as a practical joker who liked messing with people he regarded as lower on the food chain. A prominent 1990s Sports Illustrated model who dated Epstein describes meeting Donald Trump at one of Trump's parties in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel back then, and Trump goading Epstein to get her number. ''Jeffrey said he wouldn't give it to him and he had to get it from me,'' she says. She finally gave it to him on another occasion, but he lost the number. ''Trump called Jeffrey trying to get it again, saying 'She gave it to me! You know she gave it to me! You can give it to me now!' but Jeffrey wouldn't do it.'' She laughs. ''Donald was such a joke to all of the models back then'--we all knew he was bankrupt and had no game. I remember Jeffrey once saying he was going to be late to pick me up because he had to drop off food for Donald'--he was at home crying under the covers.''
Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy 'Pending Further Information' '' Variety
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 03:46
August 11, 2019 5:19PM PTJeffrey Epstein's autopsy results are ''pending further information,'' according to a statement from the New York City Medical Examiner's office.
''Today, a medical examiner performed the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein. The ME's determination is pending further information at this time,'' chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in the statement.
Sampson also confirmed the presence of a private pathologist (Dr. Michael Baden) at the autopsy, per the request of Epstein's representatives '-- a ''routine practice,'' Sampson added.
Epstein died Saturday of suspected suicide two weeks after he was found injured in his cell with marks on his neck.
Previously, Manhattan federal prosecutors had charged Epstein in July with the sex trafficking of girls as young as 14 years old and the collection of child pornography. Epstein pled not guilty, but had he been convicted, he faced up to 45 years in prison.
The suicide also came a day after court records were unsealed in which Virginia Giuffre alleges that Epstein kept her as a teenage sex slave and forced her to have sex and perform erotic massages on a number of powerful people, including Britain's Prince Andrew, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. All three of the accused of denied the accusations.
Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy results are ''pending further information,'' according to a statement from the New York City Medical Examiner's office. ''Today, a medical examiner performed the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein. The ME's determination is pending further information at this time,'' chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in the statement. Sampson also confirmed the presence [...]
Just a few streets away from a protest in front of the Equinox in West Hollywood on Friday night, ''Pose'' star Billy Porter weighed in on the controversy. ''Leave,'' he told Variety in response to the uproar that came after Equinox and SoulCycle owner Stephen Ross hosted a fundraiser for President Trump at his Hamptons [...]
A small protest erupted outside of Equinox Fitness in West Hollywood Friday afternoon following the outcry over a big-dollar fundraising event for President Trump organized by billionaire Stephen Ross, chairman of Equinox owner Related Companies. Approximately 20 people gathered at the Sunset Boulevard protest coordinated by Gonzalez Garcia and his friend Adam Bass. Garcia and [...]
UPDATED: Donald Trump blasted Hollywood as ''racist'' outside the White House on Friday morning, adding that the industry is doing a ''disservice'' to the country. His remarks come amid controversy over ''The Hunt,'' the Blumhouse film about elite vacationers hunting down blue-collar whites for sport. The film has generated backlash on Fox News and other [...]
President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to attack Google, and allege without evidence that the search giant was looking to influence the 2020 election. ''We are watching Google very closely,'' he tweeted. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1158706058724040704 Trump's tweets were apparently prompted by a segment that aired Monday night on ''Lou Dobbs Tonight.'' In it, Dobbs interviewed former [...]
After dominating the World Cup earlier this summer, Megan Rapinoe is striving towards a new goal. The soccer star has joined forces with her current and former US Women's soccer teammates Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Meghan Klingenberg to launch re-inc, a gender-inclusive fashion and lifestyle brand that defies convention and reimagines the status quo. [...]
Kacey Musgraves was among those feeling she'd had more than enough following the massacres in El Paso and Dayton '-- and in a live performance at Lollapalooza and subsequent series of tweets, the native Texan let loose on the president for what she considered his feeble response to the tragedies. ''Don't you hear us, @realDonaldTrump?'' [...]
Crime Writer James Patterson Is Obsessed With Jeffrey Epstein's Penis
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 03:52
The story of Jeffrey Epstein'--a bizarre, self-described billionaire who bought his way out of trouble after police uncovered a sexual assault ring operating from his Florida mansion'--has fascinated the public for over a decade. So it makes sense that best-selling uber-rich crime writer James Patterson is, like the rest of us, obsessed with the mystery of his Palm Beach neighbor.
And so, Patterson, the 69-year-old book mill owner and operator who holds the record for most No. 1 New York Times best sellers, has taken a rare swoop into nonfiction territory to give us Filthy Rich: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein. As with most Patterson novels, Epstein's tale is co-written'--a generous characterization of the situation where Patterson employs dozens of ghostwriters and publishes their work under his brand'--with John Connolly, a former New York police detective, Vanity Fair editor, and current Florida private eye, who (it has been rumored) at one time allegedly worked for the Church of Scientology.
Indeed, what is already known of Epstein, the massage-loving Icarus who flew too close to underage girls, is shocking. Dozens of profiles, hundreds of reported pieces, and thousands of pages of court documents have told the story of the man who worked for and socialized with New York's wealthiest and most famous while surrounding himself with loyalists who either actively aided in his sexual assaults of postpubescent girls or kept his secrets.
Sadly, Filthy Rich has little to add to the canon.
Patterson's 287-page book is organized into tiny'--sometimes just single-page'--chapters, bearing the subject's name and a date. These early, smaller chapters are meant to create scenes in the lives of the victims, but provide less detail than one might get by googling. These tableaux show girls between 14 and 18, getting ready to meet Epstein, dodging their parents' concerns, and conversations between them and the high-school classmate who acted as one of Epstein's madams, luring girls to the mansion's massage room. (Patterson writes in his author's note that scenes and dialogue have been ''recreated.'')
As detailed in the book, citing news reports covering the constellation of court cases that have spawned from his crimes, Epstein between the years 1998 and 2007 ran a kind of depraved pyramid scheme, paying young girls $200 (or more if they would ''do more'') to give him sexual massages, and recruiting them to bring other young girls into the fold. These messages'--which would occur up to three times a day, with different girls each time'--were just a way to get high-school girls through the door, however. Once inside his room, a naked Epstein would grab them, masturbate, and sometimes penetrate them with his fingers, a vibrator, or his oddly-shaped penis, according to the girls.
Strangely, Epstein's penis is the rare instance where the book is large on details. Lingering on his anatomy in several sections'--calling it ''egg-shaped,'' ''very tiny,'' ''some sort of birth defect,'' ''like a teardrop, like a drop of water ... really fat at the bottom and skinny at the top where it's attached. And it never gets fully hard, ever.''
When police got wind of Epstein's activities, they launched an investigation that led to a 53-page indictment. If convicted, Epstein was facing decades in prison, but he needn't worry: A team of powerful and talented attorneys that included Alan Dershowitz and former Clinton special prosecutor Kenneth Starr launched an aggressive'--and ultimately successful'--campaign to discredit the prosecutors as well as the young victims. (Epstein recruited vulnerable girls from the wrong side of the tracks who were less likely to tell anyone about the assaults in exchange for modest sums of money and perks like car rentals and movie tickets, the book notes.)
U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta claimed the state didn't stand a chance against Epstein's legal dream team. ''Our judgment in this case, based on the evidence known at the time, was that it was better to have a billionaire serve time in jail, register as a sex offender, and pay his victims restitution than risk a trial with a reduced likelihood of success,'' he wrote in a 2011 letter, which Filthy Rich quotes in full.
In the end, Epstein would strike a slap-on-the-wrist deal with prosecutors that enraged local police. He'd pay settlements to dozens of accusers, but plead guilty to only one count of soliciting a minor. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a Palm Beach county jail'--16 hours of which every day but Sunday, he could spend at his home or in his office, due to a work release provision in the deal.
The book's best chapters are its longer ones'--but these are often just printed depositions, letters, police interviews, and court documents. News stories are quoted from liberally. Vicky Ward's profile for Vanity Fair, as well as her explanation in The Daily Beast for why the most incriminating pieces were removed by her then-editor Graydon Carter, are among the published pieces examined at length.
In Part II, ''The Man,'' Patterson examines Epstein before his fall.
The 63-year-old was born to and raised by middle-class parents in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. A math whiz, Epstein was soon teaching at the Dalton School, a prestigious private prep school on New York's Upper East Side. Through a parent at the school, Epstein parlayed the position into another, better-paying one at Bears Stearns where he worked on tax issues for ultra-wealthy clients. But he didn't stay long; Epstein resigned during an insider trading investigation of Bear Stearns by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. From there, he collected rich clients, including the founder of The Limited Inc., Leslie Wexner, who some say gifted Epstein New York's largest private residence. Exactly what he did for them is unknown. Maybe he had ties to the government? Maybe he fashioned tax shelters for his clients? If Patterson knows, he's not telling.
Through philanthropy, Epstein opened his circle to academics and political giants'--Nobel Prize winners, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Clinton are all counted as friends who visited Epstein's private island in the Virgin Islands. Patterson uncovers no evidence that any were involved with Epstein's criminal activity. And despite tabloid headlines, Filthy Rich, has nothing new on Epstein's ties to Donald Trump, or Bill Clinton.
The original reporting is limited to brief interviews, including law enforcement officials; old Brooklyn friends who said Epstein always seemed like a nice Jewish boy to them; a former acquaintance who said Epstein used to lie about having money (he allegedly stole her friend's Concorde jacket and would tell people he flew on the aircraft, ''a total lie,''); and Todd Meister, Nicky Hilton's ex-husband who knows Epstein through his mega-rich dad and dishes in the book that Epstein (whom he calls a ''yutz'') once bragged that he ''liked to go into insane asylums because he liked to fuck crazy women.''
They also interviewed Anna Salter'--a clinical psychologist (and, it goes unsaid, mystery novelist)'--who has never met Epstein, but makes a few general statements about narcissism and psychopathy.
In almost every section of Filthy Rich, Patterson asks the reader questions'--seemingly the same ones forming in his readers' minds.
''Who is Jeffrey Epstein?'' ''How Did Jeffrey Epstein make all his money?'' ''Is Epstein a born psychopath?'' ''What exactly was he guilty of?''
Filthy Rich, one could assume, was a failed attempt to answer these questions.
''I thought it was a really powerful story, and I thought it needed to be told,'' Patterson recently told The Wall Street Journal.
If only somebody would.
New York coroner 'confident' Epstein's death was suicide: New York Times - Reuters
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 03:50
(Reuters) - New York City's chief medical examiner is confident Jeffrey Epstein died by hanging himself in the jail cell where he was being held without bail on sex-trafficking charges, but is awaiting more information before releasing her determination, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing a city official.
An exterior view of the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
An autopsy was performed earlier in the day on the disgraced financier found unresponsive on Saturday in a New York City jail, chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said. A private pathologist observed the autopsy on behalf of Epstein's representatives, which she called ''routine practice.''
A determination on the cause of death ''is pending further information at this time,'' Sampson said in a statement.
The suspicion in Epstein's death was hanging, said a city official not authorized to speak on the record.
The Times did not say why it could not identify the source of information on the medical examiner's likely determination of the cause of death.
Epstein, 66, was not on suicide watch at the time in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a source said.
Epstein, a well-connected money manager, was found hanging by his neck, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
The wealthy financier, who once counted Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14, from at least 2002 to 2005.
The FBI and the Department of Justice's Inspector General opened investigations into his suicide while he was in federal custody.
Last month, Epstein was found unconscious on the floor of his jail cell with marks on his neck, and officials were investigating that incident as a possible suicide or assault.
Despite that incident, Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, and he was alone in a cell in the unit of the correctional center used to isolate vulnerable prisoners when his body was found.
It was not immediately clear why Epstein was taken off suicide watch, a special set of procedures for inmates who are deemed to be at risk of taking their own lives.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons, which operates the MCC, provided no explanation beyond its terse statement that Epstein was found dead in an apparent suicide.
His death touched off outrage from Attorney General William Barr, politicians and many of Epstein's alleged victims, who fear that they may lose their day in court now that Epstein is dead.
That investigation into conduct described in the indictment, including the conspiracy count, will continue despite Epstein's death, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said on Saturday.
The indictment - which accused Epstein of knowingly recruiting underage women to engage in sex acts, sometimes over a period of years - came more than a decade after he pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor in a deal with prosecutors that has been widely criticized as too lenient.
Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Rigby
4chan user posted about Jeffrey Epstein's death before it was public
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 23:00
Less than an hour before the first news reports surfaced that Jeffrey Epstein had been found unresponsive in his jail cell, a post about his death mysteriously appeared on a far-right message board.
Authorities now want to know who was behind the post, which contained medically accurate details about the financier and accused sex trafficker.
The New York City Fire Department, for its part, has determined that the information in the post did not come from its records, a department spokesperson told NBC News. Fire officials reviewed the post on 4chan, a forum popular with internet trolls and people in the so-called alt-right movement.
BuzzFeed News was first to report on the post, which appeared on 4chan 38 minutes before the first tweet about Epstein's death from ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky at 8:54 a.m. ET. The flagship ABC News account tweeted an article about Epstein's death five minutes later.
"[D]on't ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this," the post reads. The text was accompanied by an image of Pepe the Frog, an internet meme that is popular among far-right internet trolls.
Troll posts looking to capitalize on the initial post immediately began pushing elaborate conspiracy theories about body doubles, which were later refuted by the original poster.
New York Presbyterian, the hospital to which Epstein was taken to, declined to comment.
The New York City medical examiner's office said Sunday that it had completed an autopsy on Epstein but that it needed more information before determining the cause of death.
Multiple people briefed on the investigation told NBC News that suicide remains the presumed cause of death and that no sign of foul play has yet emerged.
Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, even though he was found in his cell two weeks ago with marks on his neck, multiple people familiar with the investigation said.
Tom Winter Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism, and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Ben Collins covers disinformation, extremism and the internet for NBC News.
Daniel Arkin Daniel Arkin is a reporter for NBC News.
2020
Can Stacey Abrams Save American Democracy? - Vogue
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 11:56
IT'S AN INTOXICATINGLY HOT June afternoon in Atlanta, and scores of attendees at the African American Leadership Council Summit are watching Stacey Abrams, in a simple black-and-white shift dress, take the stage. The air, under twinkling hotel chandeliers, is crackling: Congresswoman Maxine Waters has just declared to the crowd that she is ready to impeach President Trump (to wild applause). Now it's Abrams's turn.
''I have an announcement to make,'' she says, and the room is hushed, expectant. ''We won.'' The audience erupts into cheers, and Abrams takes a moment before adding, ''I realize I'm not the governor of Georgia.''
''Yes, you are!'' several people shout back.
''I'm not taking the oath of office. I'm not moving into the mansion.''
''OK, OK,'' says a woman in the audience. ''They're saying that because I didn't get all the numbers I needed, that somehow we failed in our mission. We didn't fail. In the state of Georgia, we transformed our electorate.''
There is more cheering, and an air of reverence in the room. Abrams's run for governor in 2018 ended in a loss of just 54,723 votes'--a stunning, public blow. And yet she emerged from it as a kind of bellwether Democrat, a vision of her party's future. She tripled Latino, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander voter turnout and doubled youth participation in her state. She inspired 1.2 million black Democrats in Georgia to vote for her (more than the total number of Democratic gubernatorial voters in 2014). And she gained the highest percentage of the state's white Democratic voters in a generation. All of this despite widespread reports of voter suppression and a Republican opponent, Brian Kemp'--Georgia's then secretary of state'--who oversaw the purging of about 670,000 registered voters in 2017 alone. Some 53,000 voter registrations were still pending a month ahead of the election.
Abrams refused to concede at first. ''I sat shiva for 10 days,'' she tells me. ''Then I started plotting.'' Many thought her next move would be a run for the Senate (there was the idea that Joe Biden was courting her as a vice presidential pick, rumors she has dismissed). But Abrams says her attention shifted to something more vitally important: saving American democracy itself. To this end, Abrams set up two nonprofits: Fair Count, devoted to making sure minority and poor communities are counted in Georgia during the census, and Fair Fight Action, an organization that aims to register new voters in her state and ensure that their votes are included. Fair Fight Action sued the Georgia board of elections and secretary of state over charges of voter suppression in Abrams's 2018 race. The state has unsuccessfully filed a motion to dismiss. Since then, Abrams has been traveling around the country to give speeches on her new life's cause.
Abrams's plain talk on voting rights has become so popular these days that it shows up in the stump speeches of many of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O'Rourke. (Warren has called for a constitutional amendment protecting the right to vote.) Abrams's fans also include celebrities. Oprah Winfrey, Will Ferrell, and John Legend were among those who came to Georgia to help get out the vote in 2018, and as the leadership summit in Atlanta winds down, I see Alyssa Milano outside the hotel, nearly unrecognizable in a backpack and glasses as she checks her phone. Abrams's body woman, Chelsey Hall, greets and hugs her, and then tells her boss in the car that she saw the actress. ''Oh, I was supposed to text her,'' Abrams says.
We're headed to Krog Street Market, an upscale food hall in a renovated warehouse. Hall is ostensibly taking Abrams to one of her favorite places for dumplings, but it is also a chance for Abrams to show off her appeal. As soon as she enters the market, people of all ages and races begin approaching her with grins and their phones.
At a soul-food stall, cashiers and cooks surround her. ''Are you a fan of chicken? Are you vegan?'' one asks. Abrams stops. ''Are you asking if I like chicken? I'm a black woman from Mississippi; it's like my religion,'' she says. The group laughs.
As Abrams makes her way to the exit, a pair of women block her way. One is so excited, her hands are shaking. ''You gonna run for president?'' she asks after they take a photo.
Abrams smiles. ''I'm gonna run for something.''
ABRAMS, 45, GREW UP with five brothers and sisters in Gulfport, Mississippi, a small lick of a city on the Gulf Coast. Her mother was a librarian at William Carey University, a private Christian college, and her father worked in a shipyard; they were also preachers and ran a restaurant for Abrams's great-aunt. She calls her family ''working poor'''--they supported themselves but were also not strangers to having the power cut off. When Abrams was 10 or 11, the family attended a church across town, passing a more wealthy neighborhood on the way, and she and her siblings liked to imagine which house they would live in if they won the lottery.
But Abrams's parents made sure she read, (fiction, mythology, the dictionary, encyclopedias) and watched public television (the news, ballroom dancing, Sesame Street) and did theater. ''They expected us to want more,'' Abrams says. She was a good student, though she didn't enjoy school, preferring to write on her own'--everything from poems to Christian pop and country songs. She composed her first novel at 12, about her ''tortured thoughts of being an outsider,'' called The Diary of Angst. Her youngest sister, Jeanine Abrams McLean, remembers Abrams getting her to pretend to be from a foreign country whenever the two were in public: ''So you had these two black girls in an elevator speaking in a French accent,'' McLean says, laughing. ''She was the kind of sibling you could call for anything'--I could talk to her about boy problems, career advice, Star Trek.''
After graduating as valedictorian, Abrams ended up at Atlanta's Spelman College'--despite not wanting to go to college in the South (where she'd spent her whole life) or to an all-women's and all-black school (since she'd never been allowed to date and grew up largely around white kids). But she went, trusting her mother's urging, with the intention of becoming a physicist or a writer. Spelman was a cultural reckoning for her. ''The notion of identity and the way I situated myself as a young person, as a black person, as a Southerner, as a woman'--they were all challenged,'' Abrams says. She felt a kind of freedom, dating and exploring new social scenes and running for student office. ''I could experiment and fail in ways that were larger than my family but that weren't going to ruin my life,'' she says. She learned to take cultural clashes in stride. At the end of freshman year, her friends put together a slang guide for her because she ''had no idea what they were talking about.''
Abrams has always had an outsider perspective'--never quite feeling at home at school in Mississippi or at Spelman or at Yale Law School, which she would attend after earning her master's in public policy at the University of Texas. She learned how to navigate each environment through close study. Eliza Leighton, who met Abrams during college, remembers her as having a keen sense of self: Abrams was ''a listener, an observer, and a person making connections,'' she says. As fellow undergraduate Truman Scholars, they stayed up late having detailed conversations about how exactly they would change the world.
In her third year at Yale, often an overwhelming time for most law students, Abrams wrote her first romance novel, the first of eight she would go on to publish under the pen name Selena Montgomery, all with suggestive titles like Hidden Sins, Deception, and Reckless. She initially wanted to try the spy genre, having loved James Bond movies, but found that publishers didn't seem interested in such stories with black heroines. Last year, she published her first book under her own name, a blend of memoir and leadership advice titled Lead From the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change. The passages of self-help expectedly veer into the cliché, but the personal narrative about her family (her youngest brother is an addict and in prison), her spiral into debt, and her self-doubt are blunt and engaging. She wonders at one point: ''I was really good at being a black woman, when compared to other black women. But could I be more than that?''
The idea of running for governor came to her 17 years ago: As a young tax lawyer in Atlanta, she sought advice from the only black female partner at the firm. Abrams said she'd been thinking about running for mayor, but the partner encouraged her to think bigger. So Abrams considered the posts of insurance commissioner and secretary of state, carefully reading the state constitutional descriptions of each (''I am deeply nerdy,'' she says). Eventually, after working on the 2002 campaign of Shirley Franklin, the first black woman to become mayor of Atlanta, Abrams considered the governorship. ''That's when I realized we can do this,'' she recalls.
We are in the living room of her slate-blue Atlanta town house, neutrally decorated and filled with books (among them Ulysses, Michelle Obama's Becoming, and the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat). It's the home of a woman who likes to be at home. A sand-colored couch faces a pale fireplace, decorated with family photos, a picture of Abrams with President Obama, and a statuette of Lady Justice. A tray of chocolate candies has been set on a stand near the dining-room table.
The story Abrams wants to tell about Georgia is about how the state is no longer a foregone political conclusion. It, and the rest of the Deep South, is changing, she argues. Whites now make up just over half of the population in Georgia and are expected to be the minority by the end of the next decade. Abrams has worked to reach rural communities of color, and to register folks who have never been part of the political process. In 2013, as a member of the state legislature, she created a voter-registration nonprofit called the New Georgia Project, which completed 86,000 new voter applications.
That is what began her troubles with Kemp, whom Abrams calls a ''cartoon villain'' and who alleged that Abrams's group must have committed misconduct in registering so many voters so quickly. Although Abrams's organization was cleared of those charges, Kemp's office illegally canceled nearly 35,000 voter registrations from 2013 to 2015. Abrams describes more insidious forms of suppression'--like the extremely long lines at polling stations in black neighborhoods. ''Voting rights is the foundational issue in American politics and American society,'' says Heather McGhee, a political analyst and fellow with the progressive think tank Demos. ''Simply put, if we don't all have an equal say, how can we expect to have an equal chance?''
ABRAMS IS AN AVOWED INTROVERT who has taken more personality tests than she can remember'--but she also has a certain swagger. While talking with an aide about being recognized in public, she recalls, ''Someone at the airport came up to me and said, 'Has anyone ever told you that you look like Stacey Abrams?' And I said, 'Yeah, my mom.' '' She delivers the last line with a confident shrug. She knows her political influence depends on her going out and spending time with ordinary voters'--''I try to be as committed to those moments as I can be,'' Abrams says'--but she's happiest alone. She loves to cook and watches, as she puts it, ''an inordinate amount of television'''--from Chopped to the Canadian sci-fi series Travelers and episodes of the cult sitcom Community. She just finished Genki Kawamura's international bestseller If Cats Disappeared From the World. Abrams wants to write more, too: a teenage superhero novel that is halfway done, an almost-ready legal thriller, and the last in the trilogy of romance novels. ''I get these plaintive tweets and emails asking if I'll ever get it done,'' she says. ''But some of them come from my sisters, so. . . .'' Much of her favorite music remains pre-1999 country: Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline.
Abrams is still surprised at how much people like her. ''There's something about the commonness of my story that resonates, and the averageness of some of my aspect'''--she laughs'--''and not in a bad way, but people can see themselves in me.'' She tells me she is single and is ''terrible'' at dating. ''I'm very poor at reading romantic cues,'' she says, ''and I have had conversations with men that I liked who were like, 'I liked you, but you didn't seem interested!' I had no idea! I thought you were asking me all those questions because you wanted to know what I thought.'' Her romance novels, she tells me, are a form of ''self-tutelage,'' and she thinks she can get better at dating with practice but has ''lived a life that has made practice harder.''
I get around to asking the question so many have asked: Will she run for president in 2020? ''For me, the calculus is 'Am I the right person, and is this the necessary time?' '' Abrams says. She has been meditating on what she can bring to what she considers an already ''solid field of candidates.'' The day of the conference, she held meetings with O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, and she spoke with both of them about the same thing. ''First, I expect candidates to talk about voter suppression,'' Abrams says. ''The second is that the South has to be part of any strategy for victory. My mission is to ensure that Georgia is seen as a competitive state for the general election.''
To many Americans, Abrams's wider platform has been eclipsed by her focus on voter suppression. But if she does decide to run, she says, her policy priorities will remain the same: expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage, enacting criminal justice reform, ensuring reproductive rights. Abrams is no Democratic Socialist and is content to talk about her values within a traditional capitalist framework. Her values were made in Georgia, she says. ''I think we spend a lot of time figuring out which shade of blue we are on the spectrum, and it depends on where you live, it depends on what's possible, it depends on how evolved your economy is,'' she tells me. ''I'm fighting for getting a state minimum wage above $5.15 an hour. There has to be a recognition that, on the spectrum, progress looks different because of where you are. But that doesn't mean you don't dream of more.''
Abrams's next mission is saving jobs in her state; after Georgia's passage of one of the most extreme anti-choice bills in the country this past spring, banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, several Hollywood productions have threatened a boycott. The entertainment industry hires nearly 100,000 people in Georgia and generates $9.5 billion locally. Abrams doesn't think a boycott ahead of an election year will sway state legislators, many of whom have staked their platforms on banning abortion. She is advocating that the only long-term solution is to change the composition of the legislature itself, and as I leave her home, she is getting ready to fly to Los Angeles to meet with studio executives to convince them of the need to invest in voting-rights reform and Democratic campaigns. Just days earlier, Governor Kemp canceled his own scheduled meeting with the industry. Abrams is not the leader of a state or country yet, but she is already acting like it.
Obama, Biden, Mattis and Clapper Expressed Skepticism on Syria, so Why Is Gabbard Singled Out?
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 14:29
I n order to understand the media's smear campaign against Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), we need to look back to Syria and we need to question and challenge the toxic narratives so prevalent in the mainstream media. We have not learned our lesson after Iraq.
After Congresswoman and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard exposed Senator Kamala Harris' (D-CA) racist prosecutorial record , Gabbard began to be smeared across the spectrum of mainstream media. Rather than holding Senator Harris to account on her problematic record as attorney general for California, some in the mainstream media are instead attacking Gabbard as an ''Assad apologist'' backed by Russia.
The main slander against Gabbard is her questioning of the mainstream narrative on Syria. Progressives need to work on shifting the Overton window on Syria. The debate, as it is currently constructed, is too skewed and distorted. Anyone questioning the mainstream narrative is immediately tarred and dismissed as an apologist for ''a murderous dictator.'' From its origins to the horrific chemical attacks, the narrative surrounding the war in Syria has been outright dishonest. In a 2007 interview with Democracy Now , General Wesley Clark discussed how the plans to attack Syria were drawn up in 2001 '-- a decade before violence erupted in Syria. Those who have expressed doubt and differed from the mainstream narrative on Syria include former President Barack Obama, former Vice President (and 2020 presidential candidate) Joe Biden, and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Everything about Syria needs to be questioned. So much of the official narrative already lies in tatters. The antecedents of this ''conflict,'' its actual start, the staged rescues, the proven links between Western-backed rebels and Al Qaeda, and chemical attacks used as false flags: each component of its narrated history, each insidious tactic serves only one purpose. That purpose is to promote war against one secular Middle Eastern country (Syria) that benefits other theocratic, sectarian and totalitarian regimes '-- which happen to be NATO allies. The violence in Syria was premeditated and planned by the so-called opposition. Since then, many of the most problematic elements of the mainstream media's discourse on Syria have been debunked and contradicted; both by mainstream sources and by a dedicated and growing group of global activists and Syrians. For instance, the iconic image of Omran Daqneesh, a young child covered in soot and blood, was actually a staged incident, as were the most horrific chemical attacks. These were false-flag chemical attacks staged by the Al Qaeda-dominated ''opposition'' to draw in the United States to bomb Syria. And President Donald Trump complied '-- not once, but twice. In the last couple of weeks, new evidence and leaks from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) highlights that the world's leading expert on chemical attacks came to a separate conclusion privately, as opposed to an official position that was ostensibly coerced by those who wanted NATO to bomb Syria and side with the Al Qaeda ''rebels.''
As characterized by blogger Caitlin Johnstone:
To recap, a few days ago the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) published a document signed by a man named Ian Henderson, whose name is seen listed in expert leadership positions on OPCW documents from as far back as 1998 and as recently as 2018. It's unknown who leaked the document and what other media organizations they may have tried to send it to.''
The report picks apart the extremely shaky physics and narratives of the official OPCW analysis on the gas cylinders allegedly dropped from Syrian government aircraft in the Douma attack and concludes:
The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft.''
It says instead that manual placement of the cylinders in the locations investigators found them in is ''the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.''
Johnstone wrote of the findings :
And as for the gullible, viewing, reading public '' us '' this outrageous deceit by this supposedly authoritative body of international scientists can lead to only one conclusion: that we must resort once more to the Assanges and the Chelsea Mannings '' ''traitors'' who harm Western security in the eyes of their enemies '' and the revelations of groups like WikiLeaks, if we want to know the truth of what happens in our world and the real story behind the official reports.''
The OPCW has denied the veracity of the leaked study that contradicts its official position. This is very troubling and highlights that the main excuse for bombing Syria and justifying regime change is built on a lie. If the OPCW cannot be trusted on the 2018 chemical attacks, can it be trusted on the earlier chemical attacks that were blamed on the Syrian government?
Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe (whose work as an alternate source is invaluable) wrote this about Syria in 2016:
COVERAGE OF the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.
Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of 'rebels' or 'moderates,' not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a 'rat line' for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey's good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it '-- and because that is the official line in Washington.''
This debate has to be shifted. Such a shift is essential to not only challenge the military industrial complex; it is the key to making Gabbard palatable to the average American who has been brainwashed against her.
Gabbard's ''witnesses'' While everything on Syria needs to be questioned, let's focus specifically on the chemical weapons attacks.
This was one of the most heinous crimes committed in this conflict and blame for the attacks has been placed squarely on the shoulders of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Similarly, the most progressive and principled candidate for the 2020 elections has been relentlessly attacked on the issue of Syria. Gabbard should call to witness former President Obama and former Defense Secretary Mattis, both of whom have expressed doubts about the veracity and evidence of reports blaming Assad for the chemical attacks. She should educate America about how renowned journalist Seymour Hersh debunked the mainstream version of the 2013 chemical attacks in the London Review of Books . And she should make known that similar doubts have been raised by MIT scientist Theodore Postel and journalist Robert Fisk, among others.
A BBC News item from May 2013 quotes the UN's war-crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte:
Testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests rebels have used the nerve agent, sarin, a leading member of a UN commission of inquiry has said. Carla Del Ponte told Swiss TV that there were 'strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof.'''
This was before the most devastating chemical attack that took place a few months later in Ghouta, resulting in scores of children dying. At this point, it is clear that even the UN was caught by surprise when Del Ponte concluded that rebels could have also used chemical weapons.
The August 2013 Ghouta attack: no ''slam dunk'' One of the main sources used by the mainstream media to pin the blame on the Syrian government was Elliot Higgins , an otherwise unemployed blogger working from his sofa in Leicester, England.
The veracity of Higgins' work has largely been debunked by MIT's Postol. Postol and Higgins would later debate in a comical standoff that highlighted Higgin's intransigence and obsessive nature.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour Hersh also wrote a detailed report challenging the mainstream media's assertions blaming Assad for the chemical attacks. It was not published in the New Yorker, where Hersh has published heavily in the past, but was picked up by the London Review of Books . Bear in mind, this is the same Seymour Hersh who uncovered the horrific My Lai massacre committed by the United States in Vietnam.
President Obama and then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper were themselves not confident about the veracity of the reports coming out from Syria. This is made clear in Obama's detailed 2016 interview with Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic :
Obama was also unsettled by a surprise visit early in the week from James Clapper, his director of national intelligence, who interrupted the President's Daily Brief, the threat report Obama receives each morning from Clapper's analysts, to make clear that the intelligence on Syria's use of sarin gas, while robust, was not a 'slam dunk.'' He chose the term carefully. Clapper, the chief of an intelligence community traumatized by its failures in the run-up to the Iraq War, was not going to overpromise, in the manner of the onetime CIA director, George Tenet, who famously guaranteed George W. Bush a 'slam dunk' in Iraq.''
Renowned historian and journalist Gareth Porter also covered Obama's break with the foreign policy establishment :
A big reason Mr. Obama had begun to doubt the wisdom of a military response to the Aug 21 attack, Goldberg reports, was that National Intelligence Director James Clapper came to see Mr Obama on the morning of Aug 30 and told him he could not say that the intelligence on Mr Assad having carried out the attack was a 'slam dunk.'
Mr Clapper's reference was to the misguided assurance that CIA Director George Tenet reportedly gave then-President George W. Bush in 2002 that the intelligence community could back up Mr Bush's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) claims about Iraq and that to do so would be a 'slam dunk.' Mr Clapper was saying that U.S. national intelligence was not at all certain that the Mr Assad regime was at fault for the attack.''
Even Gabbard's 2020 opponent and former Vice President Joe Biden offered a candid assessment of the situation in Syria. As the Washington Post reports:
When asked by a student whether the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, Biden first explains that there was 'no moderate middle' in the Syrian civil war, before changing the topic to talk about America's allies:
'Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends, and I have a great relationship with Erdogan, [whom] I just spent a lot of time with, [and] the Saudis, the Emirates, et cetera.
What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad, and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad '' except that the people who were being supplied, [they] were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis who were coming from other parts of the world.
Now, you think I'm exaggerating? Take a look. Where did all of this go? So now that's happening, all of a sudden, everybody is awakened because this outfit called ISIL, which was al-Qaeda in Iraq, when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space and territory in [eastern] Syria, [and they] work with al-Nusra, who we declared a terrorist group early on. And we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.'
The 2017 Khan Sheikhoun attack A 2018 article in Newsweek titled '' Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His People ,'' offers this telling assessment by the figure who was at the time the highest authority in the U.S.' defense establishment, General James Mattis:
'... the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has 'no evidence' that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.
This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.''
If Mattis and the DoD and DIA can express doubt as to who is to blame for the chemical attacks, then why can not a sitting congresswoman, presidential candidate and U.S. veteran?
From 2013 onwards, every major chemical attack that has been attributed to the Syrian government has been questioned. The OPCW has contradicted its own official findings. Why must Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard be smeared and attacked for questioning the mainstream narrative on Syria when even Barack Obama has done the same?
Feature photo | From left, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Paul Sancya | AP
Ali A. Taj is Editor in Chief of Let us build Pakistan (LUBP), an alternative news and political platform that campaigns for the rights of all Pakistanis. Visit LUBP on Twitter and Facebook.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.
Tulsi Gabbard Has Enemies In High Places - Robbie Jaeger - Medium
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 12:40
How doing the right thing could be costing her everything
The morning of February 28, 2016, Tulsi Gabbard was in a pretty good spot. She was the rising-star Congresswoman from Hawaii, the darling of the Democratic party, whose anti-regime change platform was breathing fresh life into a stagnating institution. She was their future. But the revelations'Š'-- revealed by Wikileaks through troves of leaked internal emails'Š'--'Šthat the Democratic National Committee was actively conspiring against Bernie Sanders in order to ensure Hillary Clinton won the nomination at that years convention changed everything. That day, Tulsi Gabbard took a stand. With her head held high and a smile on her face, she resigned her position as Vice-Chair of the DNC, and not only that, went against her party and publicly endorsed Sanders. The next day, she recieved this email:
Now, this email is hardly new. Wikileaks released it as part of their Podesta Emails series later in 2016. So why am I even bringing it back up? Because it's relevant, or possibly, it's consequences are.
Ever since Gabbard announced her bid for the Presidency, she has been subject to the occasional, yet predictable hit-piece. It's usually an intentionally misrepresented version of her meeting with Syrian president Bashar Al Assad on a diplomatic fact finding mission in 2017, and her subsequent public opposition to US involvement in the conflict . Most accounts of this story either minimalize or omit completely her also meeting with leaders on the other side of their Civil War, which when coupled with her reluctance to go to war there, is done to make her seem as an ''apologist'' for a man accused of atrocious humanitarian abuses. The apologist label is untrue, of course, as she has called him a ''brutal dictator'' and even called for his execution if he were to ever be convicted of war crimes by an international court. Anyone with access to the internet and the desire to be informed can find this information, if they're willing to search for it. Many either can't or won't be bothered. Who has time to read anymore?
Instead, many turn to cable news outlets and social media pundits for their research and information. People look to the press because, let's face it, they're supposed to know more than us about what goes on behind the curtain. Make no mistake, they certainly do. They also know that most people will believe what they're told by the mainstream media. So when it comes to the easily debunked ''Assad'' smear hurled at Tulsi Gabbard, one you swear must be true because you've heard it a hundred times, how could they all be wrong? It's almost like they're all reading out of the same playbook. Maybe. More likely though, they're all on the same e-mail list. This is why that infamous email matters.
The email at face value looks like nothing more than a couple of disgruntled Democrat fundraisers being salty at Gabbard for not falling in line with the DNC and backing Clinton, and telling her they're taking their money elsewhere. But it's the names that matter here, and not only that, but their positions at the companies they work for. The email is written by Darnell Strom on behalf of himself and a man named Michael Kives. Both men, at the time were executives at a global talent representation firm '-- Creative Artists Agency, or CAA. Let's start there.
CAA presents itself as a ''Nexus of talent, content, brands, technology, sports, and live events'' creating ''limitless opportunities for the storytellers, trendsetters, icons, and thought leaders who shape popular culture''. What does that mean? CAA represents thousands of clients across the entire mass media spectrum. From A-List movie stars and news anchors, to sports heroes and big tech CEOs. By putting so many influential and socially exhalted figures under one umbrella, it provides a pathway for ideas to inorganically seep into the cultural lexicon, ideas that can be instantly promoted by your favorite politician and your favorite NBA player simultaneously without the typical observer knowing they got that idea from the same person. It is the largest such agency of its kind in the world, though there are others like them, namely United Talent Agency, or UTA. UTA is another firm much like CAA with the same function and goals, and years after he authored that email, Darnell Strom would leave CAA to head up the newly launched ''Culture and Leadership Division'' there. His role is described as working with clients who ''want to expand their diverse businesses and cultural influence at the intersection of entertainment, politics, the arts, and thought leadership'' enabling clients to ''connect and create big, bold, brave ideas'...across all mediums''. He also described UTA as a ''creative hub'' for leading voices, helping them ''build businesses and find global audiences in unexpected places''. Except, it's completely expected. Wouldn't it be easier to get an interview on CNN to promote your book when you and Chris Cuomo share an agent? Maybe get your up and coming football star on Jimmy Fallon? How about to promote a candidate on The View? Or simply a push talking point on all of the above?
See where this is going?
Michael Kives was a long time agent and executive at CAA, before which he worked on the staffs of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. He used his Hollywood connections as a tool for massive fundraisers for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 and 2016 bid for president, and why not? You have a rolodex full of millionaires you know on a first name basis, you might as well make the most of it. At no time was that more apparent than at Kives' own wedding in November of 2018. The Hollywood Reporter's headline read: ''Wedding or Power Summit?''. It was an apt description. The ceremony was attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker, Elon Musk, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. Also, none other than Kamala Harris, who Kives donated $5,000 to, was supposed to attend but had to cancel according to THR's sources. As a matter of fact, CAA employees were the 8th largest donor to Harris' ''Fearless for the People'' leadership PAC, to the tune of $16,500 that year. CAA as a whole donated almost $479,000 to candidates and PACs in 2018, with Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren all getting donations of $11,000 or higher. Oh, and CAA represents all of Joe Biden's interests. So, the next time you see a debate where you think Anderson Cooper is going easy on him, just remember they have the same agent, and he likely not only had a role in arranging and scheduling the debate, but also likely prepped both of them on a PR level beforehand. The real implications of these monopolistic relationships are frightening to think about. Kives has since left CAA to start his own advisory firm, K5 Global (with praise from Warren Buffett, no less), whose website is blank except a logo and an email address for inquiries. It seems K5 and CAA are still affiliated in some way, as a Glassdoor listing describes it as such, but K5 does not have a public client list, nor is there much more information available about the firm or its business activities.
The two men in that email are some of the most connected and powerful men in the country, and they have a grudge against Tulsi Gabbard that they have held since the day she stepped down from the DNC. Now, it could be the reason for her constant battle against slanted coverage, media smear jobs, and marginalized publicity.
While a massive network of elites may do well in the world of political fundraising, ask yourself another question: How well does it work in the world of information dissemination? An agent's job is simple, really: find the most profitable outcome for your clients interests. If those interests get roasted on national television, you have to fight back, quickly, and with a vengeance.
At the second Democratic debate on CNN, Tulsi Gabbard took Kamala Harris to task on her polarizing record as California AG. The moment was a star turn for Gabbard, and a major blow for Harris on a national stage. Interests were threatened. Suddenly, that email from 2016 feels like it was written yesterday. Almost immediately the anti-Tulsi smears and hit pieces hit social media. Although Gabbard was by far the most searched candidate on Google after the debates (both debates she was in, mind you) the number one trend on Twitter that night was, you guessed it, #Assad. Anderson Cooper was asking about it in the CNN Spin Room. Ana Kasparian was tweeting ferociously about Tulsi being an apologist for dictators. Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo, Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg all ask her about Assad over the ensuing days, trying to squeeze yet another denunciation that is neither warranted or necessary. It felt coordinated. For all we know, it may have been. All of those names can be connected to a handful of people, maybe even one person. Michael Kives and Darnell Strom told Tulsi Gabbard in no uncertain terms that she had made enemies out of them. When they said their company wouldn't be helping her, can anyone argue they didn't mean blacklist? The ''company'' as they call it is Hollywood. The ''company'' is the mainstream media. Big tech. The ''company'' is everything.
One phone call, one email, one Twitter DM'Š'--'Šthat's all it would take for the most trusted brand handler and talent agent in the world to get his message on every cable news show. If that message is ''candidate x is bad'', and it reaches 10's of millions of people every single day, you will win the information war. People will believe it because it's coming from multiple ''reputable'' sources. If ABC, CNN, and MSNBC are all reporting the same thing, it's probably true, right? I mean, they're competitors, and separate entities, there's no way they could all be calling the same guy for advice, is there?
Well, they might be.
Here is a non exhaustive list of CAA and UTA clients in the Mainstream and Social Media news sphere. Yes, it is very possible all of these people are on the same email list:
CAA Clients:
Anderson CooperAlyssa MilanoAna NavarroBette MidlerBill MaherBiz Stone (Twitter Co-Founder)Bob ScheifferBob WoodwardCarl BernsteinChris CuomoCharlamagneColin JostConnie ChungDan Pfieffer (Obama Advisor)David FarentholdDavid KushnerDonna BrazileElizabeth VargasFrank LuntzGayle KingIan BremmerJames CordenJemele HillJim SciuttoJimmy FallonJoe BidenKaty TurMark CubanMartha RaddatzRob ReinerSeth MacfarlaneStephanie RuhleStephen ColbertSusan RiceValerie JarrettVan JonesWhoopi GoldbergUTA Clients:
Ana KasparianBen ShapiroCenk UygurChuck ToddClint WattsDana BashDan AbramsDan HarrisDon LemonGeorge TakeiGloria BorgerJohn KasichHarold Ford Jr.Jake TapperJeffrey ToobinJim AcostaMax BootMatt GutmanMalcolm TurnbullMichael MoorePoppy HarlowPreet BhararaRod RosensteinSeth MeyersSir Howard Stringer (Sony Chairman of the Board)Symone SandersValerie Biden OwensLike the late, great George Carlin said: ''It's a big club''. And Tulsi Gabbard ain't in it.
Look at the names on that list. It's a ''who's who'' of mass media, and it's but a fraction of the clientele these two companies represent. The influence these agencies and their executives hold is beyond the realm of imagination. One can only ponder the possibilities of the power of possessing access to a network of such size and scope. It's information control, the power to seamlessly transfer ideas from one side of the societal spectrum to the other under the guise of genuine public response or outrage. What has happened to Tulsi Gabbard since she did the right thing and endorsed Bernie Sanders is a cautionary tale for those who dare to thumb their nose at the status quo and upset the establishment apple cart. It won't stop with her. The machine will keep going. Watch how fast the media reacts to the Democratic party's chosen few'Š'--'ŠBiden, Warren, Harris, Booker'Š'--'Šwhenever outside negativity starts to throw cold water on their records. The spin will come hard and fast, just like it did in 2016. Just like it always has.
The most disturbing part of the email from Strom and Kives was Kives' own response to it after it was forwarded to him. It was two words: ''Hamme(r) Dropped''. They hoped it was on the nail in Gabbard's political coffin. The establishment will never back her. They will never let her win. They'll always dismiss her. They'll always fear her. She stands up for what's right. She doesn't just fall in line. She stands for the truth. She fights. Tulsi Gabbard's strength as a candidate is only outweighed by her power as a voice of unity in a world that the elite want kept weak and divided. That's why they need all of the Media and Hollywood's help to take her down. If she were to gain traction, the game is over.
Many have called Gabbard an isolationist, and if that's true, it's only in the sense of doing the right thing, even if it means sacrificing her career, her future, and her personal goals. But that's ok'Š'--'Šshe's used to being on an island.
Al Sharpton Mulls Joining Democratic Party's 2020 Clown Car
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:25
If you're still hoping for even more Democrats to join the already crowded clown car of 2020 candidates, you're in luck, because Rev. Al Sharpton might be thinking about entering the race.
''I never rule anything out,'' said Sharpton, adding that he isn't currently exploring a run for the nomination.Sharpton's feeling about where the Democratic Party is in relation to Trump is no secret. This year, on a recent visit to the United Kingdom, Sharpton told the Guardian Trump would likely Keep America Great because Democrats are "too tame to deal with an untamed opponent." And he's run before, citing among other things, a need to insert his voice at a time where the party had seemed insincere about its declared direction. That year, he also gave one of the more memorable speeches at the 2004 Democratic convention, saying he ran in part to show poor children who grew up like he did that they can also run for president of the United States.
I, for one, would welcome Al Sharpton's entrance to the 2020 Democratic primary. Sharpton's has made a career out of race-baiting, which has now become mainstream in the Democratic Party. If Joe Biden can be the frontrunner, despite his inappropriate behavior with women and young girls, Sharpton's controversial past is certainly not going to be a roadblock for him. It would certainly be humorous to see Sharpton explain how Trump is a racist despite their past friendship, and it would be equally amusing to see Trump rehash Sharpton's role in the Tawana Brawley hoax.
Run, Al! Run!
Any Collusion?
Overstock CEO Turned Over Docs To DOJ 'on FBI's Russian and Hillary Clinton Probes' - Sara A. Carter
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 03:42
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne delivered to the Department of Justice a number of documents, including emails and text messages, in April, regarding both the origins of the Russian investigation, and an FBI operation into Hillary Clinton with which he was personally involved during the first months of 2016, according to a U.S. official who spoke SaraACarter.com. Byrne has also confirmed the account.
Byrne claims the documents, which have not been made public and are currently under investigation by the DOJ, are allegedly communications he had with the FBI concerning both the Clinton investigation and the origins of the Russian investigation. SaraACarter.com did not review the documents, which are now under review by law enforcement.
He approached the DOJ and met with lawyers on April 5th and 30th. The first meeting was without counsel in Washington D.C. A source directly familiar with the interviews confirmed Byrne's account of the meetings.
DOJ officials said they could not comment on Byrne's allegations.
''I gave to the DOJ documents concerning both the origin of the Russian probe and the probe into Hillary Clinton, both of which I was involved in, and both of which turned out to be less about law enforcement than they were about political espionage,'' Byrne told SaraACarter.com Monday. He noted that the communications will prove that the FBI also had an operation into Clinton Foundation that he was directly involved in.
This is going to become the greatest political scandal in US history. If we survive it, and if Rule of Law returns to America, it will be due to one man: Bill Barr, Byrne Said.
''This is going to become the greatest political scandal in US history,'' he said. ''If we survive it, and if Rule of Law returns to America, it will be due to one man: Bill Barr.''
Several weeks ago, FBI officials told SaraACarter.com that they declined to comment on Byrne's allegations.
Byrne said the investigation into Clinton was one of the main reasons he came forward. This reporter first published Byrne's story about his relationship with now convicted Russian gun right's activist Maria Butina. She pleaded guilty in 2018 for failing to register as a foreign agent in the U.S. and is now serving out her sentence, which ends in October.
Byrne's claims regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation are not without parallel. According to numerous officials the FBI had an ongoing investigation. Whistleblower and former government i
nformant William Campbell was interviewed in 2018, by bureau agents from the Little Rock, Arkansa's field office. According to Campbell, who first spoke to this reporter in 2017, he was asked by FBI agents whether donations to the Clintons charitable organization from Russia were used to influence U.S. nuclear policy during the Obama Administration. Specifically, he was asked about the sale of 20 percent of Uranium One.
As also reported in 2018, by John Solomon with The Hill, the ''agents questioned him extensively about claims the Russians made to him that they had routed millions of dollars to an American lobbying firm in 2010 and 2011 with the expectation it would be used to help President Clinton's charitable global initiative while major uranium decisions were pending before Hillary Clinton's State Department.''
Byrne, told SaraACarter.com that the FBI was also investigating Clinton's charitable organizations in the first half of 2016, and that he was directly involved in one of the operations being conducted by the FBI. He did not give details regarding the operation saying but said it directly dealt with Clinton and whether or not there was pay for play.
On Monday, Byrne appeared on Fox Business Network with David Asman, revealing his claims about the Clinton investigation.
''I ended up in the center of the Russian and the Clinton investigations,'' said Byrne. ''I have all the answers. I have been sitting on them waiting for America to get there. Last summer I figured out'... what they all are is all about political espionage. It had nothing to do with law enforcement, it was all political espionage. Here's the bottom line. There is a deep state like a submarine lurking just beneath the waves of the periscope depth watching our shipping lanes. And a nuclear ice breaker called the USS Bill Barr has snuck up on them and is about to ram midship.''
''That's about to happen and I think we're about to see the biggest scandal in American history as a result. But it was all political. Everything you think you know about Russia and Clinton investigations is a lie,'' Byrne told Atman. ''It's all a cover-up. It was all political espionage.''
Connecticut attorney John Durham, who has been appointed by Justice Department investigator Attorney General William Barr is probing the FBI's handling of the investigation into Russia probe, and according to several sources is investigating the full extent of Byrne's claims and the documentation he provided in April.
This story is developing'...
Overstock stock suffers worst two-day decline ever after CEO's Russia-conspiracy story - MarketWatch
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 15:05
Overstock.com Inc. shares completed their worst two-day decline on record Wednesday, after Chief Executive Patrick Byrne claimed to have worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a ''political espionage'' case involving Russia, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Overstock's OSTK, +12.28% stock declined 22.4% Wednesday, the worst single-day percentage decline since 2014, after dropping 17.6% Tuesday. Combined, shares fell 41% in the two trading sessions, which FactSet data shows is the biggest drop since the online retailer went public in 2002.
Byrne was a guest Monday morning on Fox Business, and discussed recent articles that claimed he had a romantic relationship with Maria Butina, who has been convicted of being an unregistered foreign agent from Russia, at the behest of the FBI. He claimed to have collected evidence of a vast conspiracy involving the two 2016 candidates for the presidency, as well as other politicians, and turned it over to federal authorities.
For more: Overstock CEO spins an insane Russian-spy drama, with himself as the star
''I think we are about to see the biggest scandal in American history,'' Byrne said in an interview with David Asman on Fox Business. ''Everything you think you know about the Russia and Clinton investigations was a lie, it was all political espionage. I think [U.S. Attorney General William Barr] has gotten to the bottom of it.''
Byrne then issued an Overstock news release Monday evening titled ''Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,'' in which he proclaimed that ''I am the notorious 'missing Chapter 1' of the Russian investigation.''
Overstock shares have been on a roller-coaster ride over the past couple of years, hitting a high of around $84 in January 2018 before gradually sinking back to a low of around $9.50 this June. The stock had rebounded to around $25 earlier this month before the sharp decline this week.
The shares are now down 51.5% over the past 12 months, as the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.08% has gained 3%.
The Algos
Google Document Dump '' Project Veritas
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:46
Visit our related site here. Home Google Document Dump
Below is an index of internal Google documents Project Veritas received from the Google insider. Each folder can be downloaded by clicking on the links in the table. Project Veritas has not re-named any of the files, but did arrange the documents into the downloadable folders below.
Exclusive: Google Insider Turns Over 950 Pages Of Docs And Laptop To DOJ - Sara A. Carter
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:34
A former Google insider claiming the company created algorithms to hide its political bias within artificial intelligence platforms '' in effect targeting particular words, phrases and contexts to promote, alter, reference or manipulate perceptions of Internet content '' delivered roughly 950 pages of documents to the Department of Justice's Antitrust division Friday.
The former Google insider, who has already spoken in to the nonprofit organization Project Veritas, met with SaraACarter.com on several occasions last week. He was interviewed in silhouette, to conceal his identity, in group's latest film, which they say exposes bias inside the social media platform.
Several weeks prior, the insider mailed a laptop to the DOJ containing the same information delivered on Friday, they said. The former insider is choosing to remain anonymous until Project Verita's James O'Keefe reveals his identity tomorrow (Wednesday).
He told this reporter on his recent trip to Washington D.C. that the documents he turned over to the Justice Department will provide proof that Google has been manipulating the algorithms and the evidence of how it was done, the insider said.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the House Judiciary Committee in December, 2018, that the search engine was not biased against conservatives. Pichai explained what algorithm's are said Google's algorithm was not offensive to conservatives because its artificial intelligence does not operate in that manner. He told lawmakers, ''things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it'' are what drives the search results. Pichai said even if his programmers were anti-Republican, the process is so intricate that the artificial intelligence could not be manipulated and it was to complicated to train the algorithm to fit their bias.
Google did not immediately respond for comment on the insider's claims, however, this story will be updated if comment is provided.
The insider says Google is aware most people are unaware or not knowledgeable about these advanced IT systems and therefore unable to determine who is telling the truth.
''I honestly think that a free market can fix this issue,'' he told this reporter at a meeting in Washington D.C. ''The issue is that the free market has been distorted and what's happened is that the distortion is so grotesque and the engineering is so repulsive, all we need to do is just expose what's going on. People can hear that it is bad but that can be bias. But when they see what Google has actually written with the documents, this will actually be taught in universities of what totalitarian states can do with this type of capability.''
''It will be so revolting that it doesn't matter what the solution is, a solution will just form as a reaction to this manipulation they have done,'' the Google insider said.
He said he's asked himself many times if he's overreacting ''and every time I simply look back at the documents and realize that I am not.''
''It's that bad,'' he said. ''Disclosing Google's own words to the American public is something I am, must do, if I am to consider myself a good person. The world that google is building is not a place I, or you or our children want to live in.''
'š¸TOMORROW: Our ML Fairness Google insider comes out of the shadows.
AND: OVER A THOUSAND of pages of internal documents are released.
Google might take this new video down.
Sign up for our video list NOW '-- so you don't miss our latest on Google: https://t.co/dt1eVMYB71 pic.twitter.com/psyf36DTZs
'-- James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) August 13, 2019Another Google insider, who has come forward already, told O'Keefe and other media outlets recently that it is the programers at Google who use the algorithms to manipulate the information to advance its leftist agenda.
Greg Coppola, a software engineer, told Project Veritas that he doesn't ''have a smoking gun.''
However, ''I've just been coding since I was ten, I have a Ph.D., I have five years of experience at Google, and I just know how algorithms are. They don't write themselves. We write them to make them do what we want them to do.''
''I look at Search and I look at Google News, and I see what it's doing,'' he said. ''I see Google executives go to Congress and say '... that it's not political, and I'm just so sure that that's not true.''
Department of Justice officials declined to comment on the document dump.
But SaraACarter.com has reviewed the documents and obtained proof from the Google insider that the documents were delivered to the DOJ.
The unnamed Google insider first spoke to O'Keefe's Project Veritas. O'Keefe has been criticized by the left for outing the political bias of executives and employees of Google and other social media companies.
In the nonprofits most recent video, Project Veritas uses their undercover techniques to get Google employees to talk openly about their disdain for Trump and how their artificial intelligence operates.
Jenn Gennai, who heads Google's Responsible Innovation Team, did not know she was being filmed by O'Keefe's group. She told the undercover journalist that ''the reason we launched our AI principals is because we're not putting our line in the sand. They were not saying what's fair and what's equitable so we're like, well we're a big company, we're going to say it.''
Unhoused
Opportunity Zones Austin | AustinTexas.gov - The Official Website of the City of Austin
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 18:18
Disclaimer: The Opportunity Zone tax provisions are not administered by the City of Austin. Current law and guidance provide no regulatory oversight by a local or state government. The following information is intended for resource and educational purposes only.
The Basics
The Opportunity Zone tax provisions were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Opportunity Zone tax provisions provide investors the ability to re-invest capital gains into a fund that, in turn, invests in projects located in designated census tracts. In exchange for this investment, investors receive a decrease, deferral, and possible exclusion of capital gain tax liabilities. Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds may invest in businesses, real estate, and business assets located within designated ''Opportunity Zones.''
Tax Incentives Types
The Opportunity Zone provisions offers three types of tax incentives in which investors may realize deferred, decreased, or permanently excluded capital gains based on the amount of time the funds remain within a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund.
Temporary Tax Deferral '' A deferral of capital gains realized after 2017 and reinvested into a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund.
Step-Up in Basis '' A step-up in basis of up to 15%, subject to meeting reinvestment period thresholds of 5 years (+10%) and 7 years (+5%).
Permanent Exclusion '' The permanent exclusion of capital gains realized from the investment in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, if the investment is held for at least 10 years.
Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds
To qualify for Opportunity Zone tax incentives, funds must be invested and deployed from Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds. These funds are set up to assist in the regulation and reporting of Opportunity Zone projects.
IMPORTANT DATES
Dec. 31, 2019 '' Last day to invest in Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund to recognize maximum program benefits
Dec. 31, 2021 '' Last day to invest in Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund to realize a 10% Step-Up in Basis
Dec. 31, 2026 '' Forced recognition of capital gains invested into Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds
Dec. 31, 2028 '' Federal designation of Opportunity Zones expires
Final guidance regarding the Opportunity Zone tax provisions is continuing to be developed.
Opportunity Zones and the City of Austin
There are twenty-one (21) census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones in the City of Austin. The majority of zones are located to the east of Interstate 35. To view these designated tracts, please visit this site.
In October 2018, City Council tasked the Economic Development Department to research and provide recommendations on specific considerations relating to the Opportunity Zone tax provisions. For more information, please see the original resolution and recommendations:
Opportunity Zone Memo - March 9, 2018
Opportunity Zone Memo - April 9, 2018
City Council Resolution No. 20181018-039
EDD Response to Resolution No. 20181018-039
RESOURCES
Disclaimer: The Opportunity Zone tax provisions are not administered by the City of Austin. Current law and guidance provides no regulatory oversight by a local or state government. The following information is intended for resource and educational purposes only and does not endorse a specific opportunity zone fund.
If interested in direct guidance related to the Opportunity Zone tax provisions, please visit the following link.
For more information specific to Opportunity Zones, please visit the Internal Revenue Service's Frequently Asked Questions.
Opportunity Zone Presentation '' City of Austin
Opportunity Zone Fund Directory - National Council of State Housing Agencies
Opportunity Zone Fund Directory '-- NCSHA
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 02:43
The Opportunity Zone Fund Directory is a compilation of Opportunity Zone funding opportunities. This resource provides descriptions and contact information for publicly-announced funds that have been formed for the purpose of attracting investment in Opportunity Zones. NCSHA is tracking only multi-project opportunity funds.
NCSHA will update the directory regularly and invites funds to submit details for inclusion by completing the submission form.
For complete fund details, including select fields not included in this overview, please download the full directory.
Fund Name Fund Size Geographic Focus Investment Focus 113 York OZ Fund, LLC$750,000IndianaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-Family residential, Student housing, Workforce housing1787 Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionAlabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Small business development, Workforce housing, Other (Public-Private Partnerships, Transit-Oriented Development) 1807 Hybrid Fund$5 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Healthcare facilities)3LB Equities Opportunity Zone Fund$150 MillionTexasAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingAccess Ventures Opportunity Fund$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Small Business DevelopmentAcclaim Multifamily Opportunity Zone Investors Fund I $300 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingActivated Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$75 MillionRegional or Local: Midwest / SoutheastAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingAliquippa Renaissance Fund$5 MillionPennsylvaniaCommerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Small business development, Workforce housing, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingAllagash Opportunity Zone CRE Fund I$400 MillionRegional or Local: Virginia, North Carolina, MarylandAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingAlliance Venture Collaborative QOZ Fund$10 Billion NationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housingAllTrades Industrial Parks$7,180,541TexasCommerical real estate, Small business developmentAlpha Opportunity Zone Fund I$250 MillionAlabama, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, WisconsinAffordable housing, Multifamily residential, Student housingAmerican Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Multifamily, Mixed-Use, Mid-Density Residential, Industrial, Commercial, Office, Infrastructure, Retail, Hotels)The Amina Fund$50 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingArela Opportunity Fund$25 '' $100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Affordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Other (Alternative real estate-related investment with a focus on reduced risk and better-than-average rates of return on investment)Bay Area Opportunity Fund$60 MillionCaliforniaAffordable housing, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingBeacon Rose Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionCalifornia, Connecticut, Michigan, New YorkAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Workforce housingBedford Funds, LP$2 BillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Small business developmentBelpointe REIT, Inc.$3 BillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingBirch Moon Opportunity Fund$50 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Student housing, Workforce housingB'KOZ Fund$75 MillionNew YorkCommercial real estateBlue Spruce Opportunity Fund$100 MillionColoradoCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialBoston Financial Opportunity Zone Investment Fund I$108 MillionNationwideAffordable housingBrookRoad Capital LLC$50 MillionNew JerseyAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Student housingCaliber Tax Advantaged Opportunity Zone Fund, LP$500 MillionArizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Regional of Local: Greater Southwest RegionAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single family residential, Student housingCampustown Opportunity Zone Fund I$10 MillionAlabama, Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, VirginiaMultifamily residential, Student housingCapital Gains Opportunity Fund LLC$250 MillionNationwideHospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Other (Senior housing)Carolina Opportunity Fund I $10 MillionNorth CarolinaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use developmentCason Park OZ Fund, LLC$800,000IndianaAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business development, Workforce housingCargominiums Opportunity Fund LLC$4.2 MillionOhioAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Renewable energy investment, Other (Impact investment)Catalytic Opportunity Zone Fund, LLC$100 MillionArkansasAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingCCI OZ Fund LLC$150 MillionFlorida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, TennesseeCommerical real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingCedar Creek Lake Opportunity Zone Fund$30 MillionTexasMixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residentialCertes Partners Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionNew Jersey, New YorkAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingChestnut Opportunity Zone Fund$20 '' 50 MillionAlabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, VirginiaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Workforce housingChurchill Prima Fund Opportunity Zone Fund$25 MillionFlorida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Regional or Local: Southwest and Southeast RegionAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingCI Chicago Opportunity Zone I$100 MillionIllinoisAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Workforce housingCinderella Target Value Zones Inc.$500 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Workforce housingCLE OZ Fund$20 MillionNew York, Ohio, PennsylvaniaCommerical real estate, Community revitalization, Small business developmentClearinghouse CDFI Opportunity Fund$25 MillionArizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Regional or Local: Western U.S. States and Native LandsAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingCommunity Outcome Fund$100 '' $500 MillionIllinoisCommercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Student housingCompass Encore QOZ Fund$34 MillionAlabamaCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business developmentConnectUP! Integrated Capital Fund$25-$50 MillionIllinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South DakotaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Small business development, Workforce housingCTC Opportunity Fund$6 MillionTexasSmall business developmentCresset-Diversified QOZ Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Affordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Student housing, Workforce housingDefer Gain Fund I, LP$75 MillionArizonaAffordable housing, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingDelCam Opportunity Zone Fund I$10 MillionConnecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, VermontEconomic development, Small business developmentDerby RR OZ LP$30 MillionArizonaMixed-use development, Multifamily residentialDREAM Fund$100 MillionMinnesotaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Workforce housingDetroit Opportunity Fund$250 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories), Michigan, Regional or Local: DetroitAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingDetroit Ozone Investment Fund, LLC$500 MillionMichiganAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residentialDetroit Real Estate Opportunity Fund I$20 MillionMichiganCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingDukes Business Consulting$2 BillionAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Waste to energy, Technology, Clean energy power plant, Hydroponics, Micro-hospital, Micro-cities, and Homeless shelters )NationwideDurango OZ Fund$15 MillionTexasMultifamily residentialEast Chicago Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, LLC$65 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic developmentECD Opportunity Zones Impact Fund$200 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Workforce housingEJF OpZone Fund I LP$500 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingEmergent Communities Fund$250 MillionNorth Carolina, Virginia, Regional or LocalAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialEquityMultiple Opportunity Zone Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingFortuitous Partners Opportunity Fund$500 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Sports Stadiums and Arenas)Foundation Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use developmentThe Fund of OZ$50 MillionArizona, TexasAffordable housing, Mixed-use development, Small business developmentFundrise Opportunity Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialGalena Opportunity Fund LLC$100 MillionGeorgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Regional or Local: Northwest / Intermountain StatesAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingGarnett Station Partners Opportunity Fund$250 MillionRegional or Local: SoutheastCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Small business developmentGateway Opportunity Fund, Inc.$150 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Other (Shovel ready Lighthouse Landing, a 70 acre waterfront commercial development)The Gathering Opportunity Zone Fund$10 MillionNorth CarolinaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Small business development, Other (Outdoor free public gyms)Golden Door Partners Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionRegional or Local: NortheastEconomic development, Small business development, Other (Private Equity)GoodHorn Senior Living Opportunity Zone Fund$6 MillionTexasOther (Senior housing)Gravitas Fund$25 MillionRegional or Local: Aurora, ColoradoCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Multifamily residential, Single family residentialGreatwater Opportunity Fund$100 MillionMichiganAffordable housing, Commerical real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialGreat Plains Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNorth Dakota, Regional or Local: Upper Great Plains, with a unique focus on downtown Fargo, NorthDakotaCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialGreenleaf QOZ Fund$100 MillionGeorgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, TennesseeAffordable housing, Commerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Multifamily residentialGrubb Qualified Opportunity Fund '' 2019$200 MillionRegional or Local: Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and TexasCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialHeritage Equity Partners Urban Opportunity Zone$100 MillionNew YorkCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialHeroHomes.com Opportunity Zone Fund I$150 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Senior housing, educational institution staff housing, transit-oriented development housing, walkable ''back-to-the-future'' main streets, etc.)HR Capital Opportunity Zone Fund 1$100 MillionNationwide, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, WashingtonCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Workforce housingHumphreys QOF 2019, LLC $50 MillionArizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, TexasCommerical real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialIllinois O Zone Collaborative$150 MillionIllinoisAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housinginvestUS Opportunity Fund, Inc.$100 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialKansas Qualified Opportunity Zone Livestock Fund$50 MillionKansasEconomic development, Small business development, Other (Qualified Rural Counties in Western Kansas, Agricultural Development)King Tide Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionHawaii, TexasHospitality developmentKress OZ LP$20 MillionTexasCommercial real estateLightstone QOF I LLC$45 MillionNew YorkHospitality developmentLIHTC Development Group LLC$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Affordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialLJJ Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNew Jersey, New YorkAffordable housing Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingLocal Grown Salads i95 Opportunity Zone $60 MillionDelaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode IslandCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Small business developmentLoyalty Opportunity Fund$80 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Small business developmentMaxus Opportunity Fund I$100 MillionRegional or Local: SoutheastMultifamily residentialMCP Opportunity Fund III$100 MillionAlabamaCommercial real estate, Mixed-use developmentMiami Opportunity Fund$750 MillionFloridaCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialMidtown Opportunity Fund II$35 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Other (Senior housing)Monarch Private Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$20 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories), Regional or Local: SoutheastMultifamily residentialMoney Behind the Dreams QOZ Fund $250 MillionKentucky, Regional or Local: Louisville, KY (QOZ Tract 21111002700)Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Small business developmentNARE Fund, LLC (North American Real Estate Fund) $200 MillionTexasCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialNORF 3 Opportunity Zone Fund LLC$30 MillionAlabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, TexasAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residentialNorfolk Solar Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund$780,000VirginiaRenewable energy investmentNormandy Opportunity Zone Fund LLP$250 MillionRegional or Local: Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regionCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialNorth Country Opportunity Zone Fund L.P.$24.75 MillionNew HampshireOther (Controlled Environment Agriculture) Northwest Indiana Opportunity Zone Fund $10 MillionIndianaAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Single family residential, Workforce housingObsidian Opportunity Fund$100-$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Infrastructure investment, Renewable energy investment, Other (Solar)OCCI Real Estate Limited Partnership I$50 MillionOregonAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingOmni Impact Opportunity Fund$63 MillionLouisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New YorkCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use developmentOpportunity Development Group Fund I$650 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories), OtherCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialThe Opportunity Zone Fund of America, LLC $100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingOpportunity Zone '' Metro Phoenix Industrial Development$7 MillionArizonaCommercial real estate, Economic development, Infrastructure investmentOPZ Bernstein Opportunity Zone Fund$500 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Other (Fully diversified commercial real estate portfolio including, mixed-use, multi-family, industrial, office, retail, hospitality, student housing and self-storage)Origin QOZ Fund$200 MillionArizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Regional or Local: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, RaleighCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialOrlando Opportunity Zone Fund$400 MillionFloridaCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialOZI Company LLC$100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Philanthropy)Peachtree Hotel Group$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Hospitality development, Other (Hotel development, redevelopment and adaptive reuse)The Pearl OZ/Venture Fund$25 MillionNew York City, Northeast Pennsylvania, Northern New JerseySmall business development, Other (Hotel development, redevelopment and adaptive reuse)PEEK Opportunity Fund I$50 MillionNew JerseyMultifamily residentialPEG Opportunity Zone Impact Fund$300 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialPilot And Legacy Opportunity Fund, LLC $50 MillionTexasMultifamily residential, Workforce housingPollack Shores Opportunity Zone Fund '' Atlanta Beltline$30 MillionGeorgiaMultifamily residentialPollack Shores Opportunity Zone Fund '' Charleston NoMo$35 MillionSouth CarolinaMultifamily residentialPropel Opportunity Fund Inc.$450 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business developmentProspect Opportunity Zone Fund, L.P.$500 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingPuerto Rico Opportunity Fund, LP$150 MillionPuerto RicoAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Small business development, Student housing, OtherQuantum Fund$30 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingRaritan Bay, LP$50 MillionFlorida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, PennsylvaniaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingThe Rebirth of Garfield Park Revitalization Development$1 BillionIllinoisAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business developmentREICO Opportunity Zone Fund$150 MillionCaliforniaCommercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingRenaissance HBCU Opportunity Fund$50 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingre-viv Opportunity Fund I$10 MillionCaliforniaAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialRevOZ Capital$50 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingRural COZ$50 MillionColorado, WyomingCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Workforce housingRXR Realty OZ Fund$500 MillionNew YorkMixed-use developmentSanctuary Opportunity Funds$50 MillionNationwide, South CarolinaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housingSavage Grant Opportunity Fund$50 MillionRegional or Local: Appalachian regionCommercial real estate, Small business developmentSaxum Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionRegional or Local: Northeast, Mid-AtlanticCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingSC Opportunity Fund$50 MillionSouth CarolinaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingSeminole Equity Partners Zone Fund I $100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Renewable energy investmentShorewood Opportunity Fund $250 MillionNew YorkAffordable housing, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSixty West Access Opportunity Fund$200 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSkyBridge$3 BillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSMARTCAP Opportunity Zone Fund LLC$10 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Other (Flex-Use Industrial/Warehouse)SoLa Impact Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionCaliforniaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSomerset Partners OZ Fund$200 MillionNew YorkSortis Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionCalifornia, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, WashingtonCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Other (Unique Mixed-Use)Sound West OZ Fund I$50 MillionWashingtonHospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, OtherSponsor Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionColorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, TennesseeAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingStakeHolder Opportunity Fund$10 MillionNationwideCommunity revitalization, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Small business developmentStrategic Opportunity Zone Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Mixed-use developmentStrategic Rivermont OZ Fund$250 MillionAlabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, VirginiaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Student housingStudent Housing Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionCaliforniaStudent housingSustainable Agriculture Opportunity Zone Fund$25 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Sustainable agricultureTampa Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionFloridaHospitality developmentTech Transfer Fund I, Inc.$976,690MarylandDefense Technology InvestmentTPP Real Estate Development Fund $300 MillionPennsylvaniaAffordable housing, Commerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingTreetop Opportunity Zone Funds I, II, & III$50-200 MillionNew Jersey, New YorkAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialTVG Real Estate Opportunity Zone Fund, L.P.$10 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use developmentUrban Array Opportunity Fund$50 MillionCalifornia, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Texas, Washington, Regional or LocalCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Renewable energy investment, Small business development, Workforce housingUrban Catalyst Opportunity Fund 1 LLC$250 MillionCaliforniaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingUsonian Housing Fund$50 MillionMid-Atlantic, Southeast, MidwestAffordable housing, Single family housing, Workforce housingVerte Opportunity Fund, Inc.$100 MillionNationwideSmall business developmentVertical Farm Opportunity Fund #1$30 MillionCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Other (Vertical Farming, Sustainable Agriculture)TexasVeterans Investing$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Multifamily residentialVirtua Opportunity Zone Fund$200 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Multifamily developmentWomen's Innovation Fund Accelerator$50 MillionNationwideCommerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic Development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Small business developmentZone Opportunity Fund Inc.$500 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Other (Cannabis)The listings on this page are provided as a free service to potential community development funding recipients. The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy securities. NCSHA does not provide investment advice, and these listings are not to be construed as a recommendation to engage in a transaction with a particular party.
The information above is based solely on information provided to NCSHA by the listed contact person for each company, and NCSHA is not responsible for any inaccurate or out-of-date information in these listings. Companies utilizing this free listing are solely responsible for obtaining necessary clearances from their compliance departments.
'Opportunity' Knocks? Austin Doesn't Quite Know What To Do With Areas Picked For Federal Tax Breaks | KUT
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 02:38
Census tract 48453002411 has a lot to offer. There's a brewery on the north edge of the tract. There's a neighborhood park, and you're not too far from McKinney Falls State Park. On a good day, you can drive from this part of Southeast Austin to downtown in 20 minutes.
But census tract 48453002411 also has its challenges. According to 2016 estimates, the median family income is roughly $37,000. The unemployment rate is nearly double the national number. Given all this, local, state and federal officials believe this tract '' like 20 others in Travis County '' has room to improve.
And they're hoping a little nudge to private investors will help.
Cue: Opportunity Zones. The bipartisan measure added to the Trump administration's tax reform bill, approved December 2017, creates tax breaks for private investors in low-income census tracts.
''This legislation says there's a way to attract real capital into the distressed communities by having a tax incentive so those who have take a second look, and a different look, at those who do not,'' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), who co-sponsored the measure.
KUT's Audrey McGlinchy reports
But while Travis County has 21 Opportunity Zones, Austin officials aren't quite sure what to make of them.
Under the program, investors can put capital gains money '' any profit from another investment '' into an Opportunity Fund, which would then be spent in one of these designated zones. The longer the money is kept there, the less it's subject to taxes. Keep it there for a decade, and the capital gains tax on funds accrued is forgiven.
''It has the potential to be the nation's largest economic development program, depending on how things play out,'' said Brady Meixell, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. There are few requirements for what can be built, he said, and little oversight.
Earlier this year, governors were asked to submit eligible census tracts to the U.S. Department of Treasury for inclusion in the program. The department rubberstamped all 628 census tracts that Gov. Greg Abbott submitted in March. Most of Travis County's zones sit east of I-35, many of them in Southeast Austin.
But Mark Rogers, who builds affordable housing in parts of East Austin with the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corp., said investment in Opportunity Zones would likely accelerate or set off gentrification.
''We should know by now that redevelopment and investment in low-income areas often, if not almost universally, means it's followed by displacement and gentrification,'' he said. ''You make the area nicer, then the people with money want to go there.''
Rogers said there need to be anti-displacement policies in place to protect current residents in these areas. Last year, Austin Mayor Steve Adler convened an anti-displacement task force, but it has yet to release any policy recommendations.
Meanwhile, public entities aren't quite sure what to make of these zones. (The federal government still needs to finalize some rules for them by the end of this year). The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said it didn't feel comfortable issuing a statement about them because it was "still learning about these zones over here.'' Adler said the city doesn't have a policy yet for cultivating any public-private partnerships in these zones.
Council Member Delia Garza is hoping the city will craft some policy. Many of the Opportunity Zones are in her district '' likely because she nominated them to the governor earlier this year.
''I got this email that said, 'Nobody knows what these are exactly, but they look like they could be good opportunities,''' she recalled.
Garza said she wants to bring a grocery store to Del Valle.
''If there's now this mechanism that could incentivize some kind of investment and the city has a policy," she said, then "maybe we could line up that economic development policy with these tax incentives and get some much-needed services and amenities to that part of my district.''
While public officials consider how they might harness this new potential investment, at least one Austin-area real estate investment firm '' Shell Real Estate Services '' is already identifying Opportunity Zones throughout Texas for its clients to invest in.
Opportunity Zone Fund Directory '-- NCSHA
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 02:43
The Opportunity Zone Fund Directory is a compilation of Opportunity Zone funding opportunities. This resource provides descriptions and contact information for publicly-announced funds that have been formed for the purpose of attracting investment in Opportunity Zones. NCSHA is tracking only multi-project opportunity funds.
NCSHA will update the directory regularly and invites funds to submit details for inclusion by completing the submission form.
For complete fund details, including select fields not included in this overview, please download the full directory.
Fund Name Fund Size Geographic Focus Investment Focus 113 York OZ Fund, LLC$750,000IndianaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-Family residential, Student housing, Workforce housing1787 Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionAlabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Small business development, Workforce housing, Other (Public-Private Partnerships, Transit-Oriented Development) 1807 Hybrid Fund$5 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Healthcare facilities)3LB Equities Opportunity Zone Fund$150 MillionTexasAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingAccess Ventures Opportunity Fund$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Small Business DevelopmentAcclaim Multifamily Opportunity Zone Investors Fund I $300 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingActivated Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$75 MillionRegional or Local: Midwest / SoutheastAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingAliquippa Renaissance Fund$5 MillionPennsylvaniaCommerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Small business development, Workforce housing, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingAllagash Opportunity Zone CRE Fund I$400 MillionRegional or Local: Virginia, North Carolina, MarylandAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingAlliance Venture Collaborative QOZ Fund$10 Billion NationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housingAllTrades Industrial Parks$7,180,541TexasCommerical real estate, Small business developmentAlpha Opportunity Zone Fund I$250 MillionAlabama, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, WisconsinAffordable housing, Multifamily residential, Student housingAmerican Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Multifamily, Mixed-Use, Mid-Density Residential, Industrial, Commercial, Office, Infrastructure, Retail, Hotels)The Amina Fund$50 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingArela Opportunity Fund$25 '' $100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Affordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Other (Alternative real estate-related investment with a focus on reduced risk and better-than-average rates of return on investment)Bay Area Opportunity Fund$60 MillionCaliforniaAffordable housing, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingBeacon Rose Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionCalifornia, Connecticut, Michigan, New YorkAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Workforce housingBedford Funds, LP$2 BillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Small business developmentBelpointe REIT, Inc.$3 BillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingBirch Moon Opportunity Fund$50 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Student housing, Workforce housingB'KOZ Fund$75 MillionNew YorkCommercial real estateBlue Spruce Opportunity Fund$100 MillionColoradoCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialBoston Financial Opportunity Zone Investment Fund I$108 MillionNationwideAffordable housingBrookRoad Capital LLC$50 MillionNew JerseyAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Student housingCaliber Tax Advantaged Opportunity Zone Fund, LP$500 MillionArizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Regional of Local: Greater Southwest RegionAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single family residential, Student housingCampustown Opportunity Zone Fund I$10 MillionAlabama, Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, VirginiaMultifamily residential, Student housingCapital Gains Opportunity Fund LLC$250 MillionNationwideHospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Other (Senior housing)Carolina Opportunity Fund I $10 MillionNorth CarolinaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use developmentCason Park OZ Fund, LLC$800,000IndianaAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business development, Workforce housingCargominiums Opportunity Fund LLC$4.2 MillionOhioAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Renewable energy investment, Other (Impact investment)Catalytic Opportunity Zone Fund, LLC$100 MillionArkansasAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingCCI OZ Fund LLC$150 MillionFlorida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, TennesseeCommerical real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingCedar Creek Lake Opportunity Zone Fund$30 MillionTexasMixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residentialCertes Partners Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionNew Jersey, New YorkAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingChestnut Opportunity Zone Fund$20 '' 50 MillionAlabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, VirginiaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Workforce housingChurchill Prima Fund Opportunity Zone Fund$25 MillionFlorida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Regional or Local: Southwest and Southeast RegionAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingCI Chicago Opportunity Zone I$100 MillionIllinoisAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Workforce housingCinderella Target Value Zones Inc.$500 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Workforce housingCLE OZ Fund$20 MillionNew York, Ohio, PennsylvaniaCommerical real estate, Community revitalization, Small business developmentClearinghouse CDFI Opportunity Fund$25 MillionArizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Regional or Local: Western U.S. States and Native LandsAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingCommunity Outcome Fund$100 '' $500 MillionIllinoisCommercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Student housingCompass Encore QOZ Fund$34 MillionAlabamaCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business developmentConnectUP! Integrated Capital Fund$25-$50 MillionIllinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South DakotaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Small business development, Workforce housingCTC Opportunity Fund$6 MillionTexasSmall business developmentCresset-Diversified QOZ Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Affordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Student housing, Workforce housingDefer Gain Fund I, LP$75 MillionArizonaAffordable housing, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingDelCam Opportunity Zone Fund I$10 MillionConnecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, VermontEconomic development, Small business developmentDerby RR OZ LP$30 MillionArizonaMixed-use development, Multifamily residentialDREAM Fund$100 MillionMinnesotaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Workforce housingDetroit Opportunity Fund$250 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories), Michigan, Regional or Local: DetroitAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingDetroit Ozone Investment Fund, LLC$500 MillionMichiganAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residentialDetroit Real Estate Opportunity Fund I$20 MillionMichiganCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingDukes Business Consulting$2 BillionAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Waste to energy, Technology, Clean energy power plant, Hydroponics, Micro-hospital, Micro-cities, and Homeless shelters )NationwideDurango OZ Fund$15 MillionTexasMultifamily residentialEast Chicago Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, LLC$65 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic developmentECD Opportunity Zones Impact Fund$200 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Workforce housingEJF OpZone Fund I LP$500 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingEmergent Communities Fund$250 MillionNorth Carolina, Virginia, Regional or LocalAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialEquityMultiple Opportunity Zone Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingFortuitous Partners Opportunity Fund$500 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Sports Stadiums and Arenas)Foundation Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use developmentThe Fund of OZ$50 MillionArizona, TexasAffordable housing, Mixed-use development, Small business developmentFundrise Opportunity Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialGalena Opportunity Fund LLC$100 MillionGeorgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Regional or Local: Northwest / Intermountain StatesAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingGarnett Station Partners Opportunity Fund$250 MillionRegional or Local: SoutheastCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Small business developmentGateway Opportunity Fund, Inc.$150 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Other (Shovel ready Lighthouse Landing, a 70 acre waterfront commercial development)The Gathering Opportunity Zone Fund$10 MillionNorth CarolinaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Small business development, Other (Outdoor free public gyms)Golden Door Partners Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionRegional or Local: NortheastEconomic development, Small business development, Other (Private Equity)GoodHorn Senior Living Opportunity Zone Fund$6 MillionTexasOther (Senior housing)Gravitas Fund$25 MillionRegional or Local: Aurora, ColoradoCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Multifamily residential, Single family residentialGreatwater Opportunity Fund$100 MillionMichiganAffordable housing, Commerical real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialGreat Plains Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNorth Dakota, Regional or Local: Upper Great Plains, with a unique focus on downtown Fargo, NorthDakotaCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialGreenleaf QOZ Fund$100 MillionGeorgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, TennesseeAffordable housing, Commerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Multifamily residentialGrubb Qualified Opportunity Fund '' 2019$200 MillionRegional or Local: Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and TexasCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialHeritage Equity Partners Urban Opportunity Zone$100 MillionNew YorkCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialHeroHomes.com Opportunity Zone Fund I$150 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Senior housing, educational institution staff housing, transit-oriented development housing, walkable ''back-to-the-future'' main streets, etc.)HR Capital Opportunity Zone Fund 1$100 MillionNationwide, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, WashingtonCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Workforce housingHumphreys QOF 2019, LLC $50 MillionArizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, TexasCommerical real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialIllinois O Zone Collaborative$150 MillionIllinoisAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housinginvestUS Opportunity Fund, Inc.$100 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialKansas Qualified Opportunity Zone Livestock Fund$50 MillionKansasEconomic development, Small business development, Other (Qualified Rural Counties in Western Kansas, Agricultural Development)King Tide Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionHawaii, TexasHospitality developmentKress OZ LP$20 MillionTexasCommercial real estateLightstone QOF I LLC$45 MillionNew YorkHospitality developmentLIHTC Development Group LLC$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Affordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialLJJ Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionNew Jersey, New YorkAffordable housing Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingLocal Grown Salads i95 Opportunity Zone $60 MillionDelaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode IslandCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Small business developmentLoyalty Opportunity Fund$80 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Small business developmentMaxus Opportunity Fund I$100 MillionRegional or Local: SoutheastMultifamily residentialMCP Opportunity Fund III$100 MillionAlabamaCommercial real estate, Mixed-use developmentMiami Opportunity Fund$750 MillionFloridaCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialMidtown Opportunity Fund II$35 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Other (Senior housing)Monarch Private Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$20 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories), Regional or Local: SoutheastMultifamily residentialMoney Behind the Dreams QOZ Fund $250 MillionKentucky, Regional or Local: Louisville, KY (QOZ Tract 21111002700)Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Small business developmentNARE Fund, LLC (North American Real Estate Fund) $200 MillionTexasCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialNORF 3 Opportunity Zone Fund LLC$30 MillionAlabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, TexasAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residentialNorfolk Solar Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund$780,000VirginiaRenewable energy investmentNormandy Opportunity Zone Fund LLP$250 MillionRegional or Local: Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regionCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialNorth Country Opportunity Zone Fund L.P.$24.75 MillionNew HampshireOther (Controlled Environment Agriculture) Northwest Indiana Opportunity Zone Fund $10 MillionIndianaAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Single family residential, Workforce housingObsidian Opportunity Fund$100-$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Infrastructure investment, Renewable energy investment, Other (Solar)OCCI Real Estate Limited Partnership I$50 MillionOregonAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingOmni Impact Opportunity Fund$63 MillionLouisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New YorkCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use developmentOpportunity Development Group Fund I$650 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories), OtherCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialThe Opportunity Zone Fund of America, LLC $100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingOpportunity Zone '' Metro Phoenix Industrial Development$7 MillionArizonaCommercial real estate, Economic development, Infrastructure investmentOPZ Bernstein Opportunity Zone Fund$500 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Other (Fully diversified commercial real estate portfolio including, mixed-use, multi-family, industrial, office, retail, hospitality, student housing and self-storage)Origin QOZ Fund$200 MillionArizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Regional or Local: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, RaleighCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialOrlando Opportunity Zone Fund$400 MillionFloridaCommercial real estate, Multifamily residentialOZI Company LLC$100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housing, Other (Philanthropy)Peachtree Hotel Group$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Hospitality development, Other (Hotel development, redevelopment and adaptive reuse)The Pearl OZ/Venture Fund$25 MillionNew York City, Northeast Pennsylvania, Northern New JerseySmall business development, Other (Hotel development, redevelopment and adaptive reuse)PEEK Opportunity Fund I$50 MillionNew JerseyMultifamily residentialPEG Opportunity Zone Impact Fund$300 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialPilot And Legacy Opportunity Fund, LLC $50 MillionTexasMultifamily residential, Workforce housingPollack Shores Opportunity Zone Fund '' Atlanta Beltline$30 MillionGeorgiaMultifamily residentialPollack Shores Opportunity Zone Fund '' Charleston NoMo$35 MillionSouth CarolinaMultifamily residentialPropel Opportunity Fund Inc.$450 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business developmentProspect Opportunity Zone Fund, L.P.$500 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingPuerto Rico Opportunity Fund, LP$150 MillionPuerto RicoAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Small business development, Student housing, OtherQuantum Fund$30 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingRaritan Bay, LP$50 MillionFlorida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, PennsylvaniaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingThe Rebirth of Garfield Park Revitalization Development$1 BillionIllinoisAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business developmentREICO Opportunity Zone Fund$150 MillionCaliforniaCommercial real estate, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housingRenaissance HBCU Opportunity Fund$50 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Multifamily residential, Workforce housingre-viv Opportunity Fund I$10 MillionCaliforniaAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialRevOZ Capital$50 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingRural COZ$50 MillionColorado, WyomingCommercial real estate, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Workforce housingRXR Realty OZ Fund$500 MillionNew YorkMixed-use developmentSanctuary Opportunity Funds$50 MillionNationwide, South CarolinaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Single-family residential, Small business development, Student housingSavage Grant Opportunity Fund$50 MillionRegional or Local: Appalachian regionCommercial real estate, Small business developmentSaxum Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionRegional or Local: Northeast, Mid-AtlanticCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingSC Opportunity Fund$50 MillionSouth CarolinaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Single family residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingSeminole Equity Partners Zone Fund I $100 MillionNationwideAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Renewable energy investmentShorewood Opportunity Fund $250 MillionNew YorkAffordable housing, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSixty West Access Opportunity Fund$200 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSkyBridge$3 BillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSMARTCAP Opportunity Zone Fund LLC$10 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Other (Flex-Use Industrial/Warehouse)SoLa Impact Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionCaliforniaAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Community revitalization, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialSomerset Partners OZ Fund$200 MillionNew YorkSortis Opportunity Zone Fund$100 MillionCalifornia, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, WashingtonCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Other (Unique Mixed-Use)Sound West OZ Fund I$50 MillionWashingtonHospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, OtherSponsor Capital Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionColorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, TennesseeAffordable housing, Commercial real estate, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingStakeHolder Opportunity Fund$10 MillionNationwideCommunity revitalization, Economic development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use development, Small business developmentStrategic Opportunity Zone Fund$500 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Commercial real estate, Mixed-use developmentStrategic Rivermont OZ Fund$250 MillionAlabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, VirginiaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Renewable energy investment, Student housingStudent Housing Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionCaliforniaStudent housingSustainable Agriculture Opportunity Zone Fund$25 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Sustainable agricultureTampa Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund$50 MillionFloridaHospitality developmentTech Transfer Fund I, Inc.$976,690MarylandDefense Technology InvestmentTPP Real Estate Development Fund $300 MillionPennsylvaniaAffordable housing, Commerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Small business development, Student housing, Workforce housingTreetop Opportunity Zone Funds I, II, & III$50-200 MillionNew Jersey, New YorkAffordable housing, Community revitalization, Economic development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residentialTVG Real Estate Opportunity Zone Fund, L.P.$10 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Infrastructure investment, Mixed-use developmentUrban Array Opportunity Fund$50 MillionCalifornia, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Texas, Washington, Regional or LocalCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Renewable energy investment, Small business development, Workforce housingUrban Catalyst Opportunity Fund 1 LLC$250 MillionCaliforniaCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Hospitality development, Mixed-use development, Multifamily residential, Student housing, Workforce housingUsonian Housing Fund$50 MillionMid-Atlantic, Southeast, MidwestAffordable housing, Single family housing, Workforce housingVerte Opportunity Fund, Inc.$100 MillionNationwideSmall business developmentVertical Farm Opportunity Fund #1$30 MillionCommercial real estate, Community revitalization, Economic development, Other (Vertical Farming, Sustainable Agriculture)TexasVeterans Investing$100 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Multifamily residentialVirtua Opportunity Zone Fund$200 MillionNationwide (all 50 states, DC, and US territories)Multifamily developmentWomen's Innovation Fund Accelerator$50 MillionNationwideCommerical real estate, Community revitalization, Economic Development, Mixed-use development, Renewable energy investment, Small business developmentZone Opportunity Fund Inc.$500 MillionNationwideCommercial real estate, Other (Cannabis)The listings on this page are provided as a free service to potential community development funding recipients. The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy securities. NCSHA does not provide investment advice, and these listings are not to be construed as a recommendation to engage in a transaction with a particular party.
The information above is based solely on information provided to NCSHA by the listed contact person for each company, and NCSHA is not responsible for any inaccurate or out-of-date information in these listings. Companies utilizing this free listing are solely responsible for obtaining necessary clearances from their compliance departments.
'Opportunity' Knocks? Austin Doesn't Quite Know What To Do With Areas Picked For Federal Tax Breaks | KUT
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 02:38
Census tract 48453002411 has a lot to offer. There's a brewery on the north edge of the tract. There's a neighborhood park, and you're not too far from McKinney Falls State Park. On a good day, you can drive from this part of Southeast Austin to downtown in 20 minutes.
But census tract 48453002411 also has its challenges. According to 2016 estimates, the median family income is roughly $37,000. The unemployment rate is nearly double the national number. Given all this, local, state and federal officials believe this tract '' like 20 others in Travis County '' has room to improve.
And they're hoping a little nudge to private investors will help.
Cue: Opportunity Zones. The bipartisan measure added to the Trump administration's tax reform bill, approved December 2017, creates tax breaks for private investors in low-income census tracts.
''This legislation says there's a way to attract real capital into the distressed communities by having a tax incentive so those who have take a second look, and a different look, at those who do not,'' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), who co-sponsored the measure.
KUT's Audrey McGlinchy reports
But while Travis County has 21 Opportunity Zones, Austin officials aren't quite sure what to make of them.
Under the program, investors can put capital gains money '' any profit from another investment '' into an Opportunity Fund, which would then be spent in one of these designated zones. The longer the money is kept there, the less it's subject to taxes. Keep it there for a decade, and the capital gains tax on funds accrued is forgiven.
''It has the potential to be the nation's largest economic development program, depending on how things play out,'' said Brady Meixell, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. There are few requirements for what can be built, he said, and little oversight.
Earlier this year, governors were asked to submit eligible census tracts to the U.S. Department of Treasury for inclusion in the program. The department rubberstamped all 628 census tracts that Gov. Greg Abbott submitted in March. Most of Travis County's zones sit east of I-35, many of them in Southeast Austin.
But Mark Rogers, who builds affordable housing in parts of East Austin with the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corp., said investment in Opportunity Zones would likely accelerate or set off gentrification.
''We should know by now that redevelopment and investment in low-income areas often, if not almost universally, means it's followed by displacement and gentrification,'' he said. ''You make the area nicer, then the people with money want to go there.''
Rogers said there need to be anti-displacement policies in place to protect current residents in these areas. Last year, Austin Mayor Steve Adler convened an anti-displacement task force, but it has yet to release any policy recommendations.
Meanwhile, public entities aren't quite sure what to make of these zones. (The federal government still needs to finalize some rules for them by the end of this year). The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said it didn't feel comfortable issuing a statement about them because it was "still learning about these zones over here.'' Adler said the city doesn't have a policy yet for cultivating any public-private partnerships in these zones.
Council Member Delia Garza is hoping the city will craft some policy. Many of the Opportunity Zones are in her district '' likely because she nominated them to the governor earlier this year.
''I got this email that said, 'Nobody knows what these are exactly, but they look like they could be good opportunities,''' she recalled.
Garza said she wants to bring a grocery store to Del Valle.
''If there's now this mechanism that could incentivize some kind of investment and the city has a policy," she said, then "maybe we could line up that economic development policy with these tax incentives and get some much-needed services and amenities to that part of my district.''
While public officials consider how they might harness this new potential investment, at least one Austin-area real estate investment firm '' Shell Real Estate Services '' is already identifying Opportunity Zones throughout Texas for its clients to invest in.
New Opportunity Zones Could be Used to Finance Rental Housing
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 03:38
As noted in a recent client alert, opportunity zones (OZs), the new community development tool authorized in the tax law enacted in December, represent the first new tax incentive for private capital in low-income communities since the creation of the new markets tax credit (NMTC) in 2000.
The OZ program is similar to the NMTC program in that both are designed to incentivize investment of private capital in low-income community businesses and both are sorely needed to address unmet needs for capital in those communities. It is also anticipated that both incentives will be able to assist similar types of developments, albeit at different levels of subsidy per dollar invested.
However, the OZ and NMTC programs also differ in several important ways. Perhaps the most significant difference is that business investments under the NMTC program are almost always debt, while OZ investments must be in the form of equity.
The NMTC is subject to an annual allocation limit, which in recent years has been $3.5 billion per allocation round, and that limit means that many low-income communities won't see an NMTC investment in a particular year. OZs don't have an allocation limit; volume will be set only by investor appetite. With $2.3 trillion in unrealized capital gains for U.S. investors, even a fraction of this potential demand would still be significant for community development capital.
The mix of investors for each incentive is also expected to be different. The NMTC tends to draw major banks, due at least in part to the Community Reinvestment Act, and not individual investors, principally because of individual alternative minimum tax limitations. OZs will likely attract major corporations, including major banks, as well as more high-net-worth individuals, as there is no equivalent alternative minimum tax limitations.
Another key '' and often overlooked '' difference from the NMTC is that the OZ program does not have restrictions on investing in affordable rental housing.
How Rental Housing Qualifies
All rental real estate, including residential real estate, located in OZs appears to be eligible to be a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) property as long as the real estate is newly constructed, or acquired after Dec. 31, 2017 and substantially improved, and meets the active conduct standard provided in the statute.
QOZ businesses must meet the following requirements:
Substantially all of their tangible property owned or leased must be QOZ business property which is defined as:Property acquired by purchase (not exchanged) after Dec. 31, 2017;Property in which its original use in the OZ commences with the QOZ business, or such property is substantially improved over a 30-month period; andProperty which is substantially used (e.g. available to be leased) during substantially all of the QOZ business' holding period in the opportunity zone.Fifty percent of their income must be derived from active conduct, a substantial portion of their intangible property be used in such active conduct,Less than 5 percent of their unadjusted basis of property is nonqualified financial property, andThey are not ''sin'' businesses as defined by the private activity bond (and NMTC) statute.Substantially Improved
Real estate that has been previously used in an OZ can still qualify as QOZ business property as long is purchased after Dec. 31, 2017 by the OZ business and as long as the OZ business substantially improves the property. Real estate is substantially improved for OZ purposes if during any 30-month period following acquisition of such property there are additions to basis that exceed the adjusted basis as of the beginning of the 30-month period. This is generally a much higher standard than the substantial improvement standard under the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) which requires a taxpayer to spend $6,800 per unit or 20 percent of adjusted basis over a 24-month period.
Active Conduct
''Active conduct'' is not defined in the OZ statute. But, under a similar ''active conduct'' standard (relating to Gulf Opportunity or GO Zone property), Treasury defines active conduct by a taxpayer in a trade or business based on meaningful participation in the management or operations of the trade or business, and specifically cites an example of managing and operating a new apartment building in the GO Zone as active conduct.
That requirement would likely preclude the use of ''triple net leases,'' where the tenant or lessee agrees to manage the property and pay all real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance on the property in addition to any normal property fees, such as rent, utilities, etc. Most affordable rental housing properties don't involve triple net leases.
Alternatively, Treasury could adopt a standard for OZ similar to the ''active conduct'' standard in the NMTC program whereby a qualified business is considered active if a community development entity (CDE) reasonably expects that the entity will generate revenues (or, in the case of a nonprofit corporation, engage in an activity that furthers its purpose as a nonprofit corporation) within three years after the date the investment or loan is made. Under this standard, even real estate under ''triple net leases'' is likely to qualify.
Nonqualified Financial Property
Nonqualified financial property is defined as debt, stock, partnership interests, options, futures contracts, forward contracts, warrants, notional principal contracts, annuities and other similar property, but does not include reasonable amounts of working capital.
Because the definition of nonqualified financial property includes debt with terms more than 18 months, most financial institutions or investment holding companies will generally be excluded from qualifying as a QOZ business. However, given that most rental housing management and operating businesses are not financial institutions or investment holding companies, this provision should not be an impediment to participation.
Ineligible Businesses
As defined under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 144(c)(6)(B), a trade or business will not qualify as an QOZ business if it is engaged in owning operating any private or commercial golf course, country club, massage parlor, hot tub facility, suntan facility, racetrack or other facility used for gambling, or any store the principal business of which is the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises (i.e., liquor store). Again, this should not block participation for affordable rental housing.
Benefits of Twinning with LIHTC
The Opportunity Zone statute does not forbid OZ investments from being combined with other community development tax incentives, such as the LIHTC. Moreover, the 15-year LIHTC compliance period lines up well with the long-term incentives of OZ. While appreciation of LIHTC developments are by nature limited and therefore taxable gains are less likely, any gain commonly realized from excess losses deducted in highly leveraged LIHTC developments, especially bond-financed ones, could be forgiven. Depending on the development, twinning the OZ incentive with LIHTC will likely increase equity pricing.
Next Steps
There are two very important next steps for OZ implementation. First, governors must identify the low-income areas in their states designated as Opportunity Zones. Governors must submit those nominations or request a 30-day extension by March 21. Second, the Treasury Department must develop the rules that determine how Qualified Opportunity Funds are certified, and then certify those funds meeting the criteria. Once these two steps are taken, capital can begin to flow.
Austin eyes a city corporation to fight homelessness - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 03:33
Elizabeth Findell @efindellWednesday Jul 31, 2019 at 5:26 PM Aug 1, 2019 at 1:53 PM
Add another idea to the list to Austin's possible homelessness solutions: a local government corporation that could act as a city-affiliated nonprofit.
City Council members will vote next week on the proposal from Council Member Kathie Tovo directing staff members to create such a corporation dedicated to homelessness. The aim is to create an entity through which the city can receive private donations.
"From time to time, we've been asked from individuals how they can help, how they can contribute, and this would be a place for that to happen," Tovo said Wednesday. "We need that fundraising piece."
Austin has been in the throes of intense community debate over homelessness and how to respond to it. In June, council members rescinded an ordinance banning camping in most public places, a move that prompted fierce disagreement. Council members also have moved forward on building new shelters, saying they will eventually put one in each council district, and instructing staff members to look broadly at other ideas.
Council members, who have been on a summer break since June 20, have said they will further refine city laws related to homelessness when they return in August.
State law grants Texas cities the ability to create local government corporations, which are nonprofits empowered to act on behalf of the city for any governmental purpose. A local government corporation also has the ability to take out loans and issue bonds separate from other city debt and not backed by property taxes.
One such local government corporation in Dallas, the Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness, was created two years ago and helps generate ideas to combat homelessness. Tovo said she would expect an Austin version to be more limited in scope, focusing mainly on fundraising.
A board of at least three members would include, initially, one member each from the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Continuum of Care consortium and the private business sector, according to a draft resolution. The resolution asks staff members to draft articles of incorporation and bylaws to file by Nov. 1.
"As city staff note, the (corporation) structure allows it to 'operate with the flexibility and speed required to capitalize on a range of market driven development opportunities,''' the draft resolution says.
It's unclear whether a governmental corporation would affect any of the existing private nonprofits that deal with homeless issues or their relationships with the city. Tovo said she did not believe it would, saying it would only increase the funding pie.
Greg McCormack, executive director of Front Steps, which manages the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, said he knows very little about the proposal but hoped the city wouldn't be competing with private nonprofits for resources.
Ed McHorse, an Ending Community Homelessness Coalition board member, said he likes the idea of the corporation overall.
"If it can help fund services in the homelessness arena ... some of these things do require a quick response," he said. "The devil will be in the details of how it's implemented."
Council Member Ann Kitchen, who is a co-sponsor of the resolution, called a corporation a way for the public to better participate in an issue that has drawn vocal community discussion.
"We needed something yesterday that's a vehicle for people to contribute," she said.
Tovo added that such private involvement in the homeless issue is more important now that the city will be operating under stricter state limitations on how much it can raise property taxes, and thus a tighter budget.
"In a time of diminishing resources with the tax cap, we're going to be looking for resources," she said.
Hong Kong
Joyce Karam on Twitter: "Big sit-in at #HongKong airport against Police violence. ALL flights are canceled (around 1100/day), protestors occupying terminals: https://t.co/i5HTrX3aKJ" / Twitter
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 18:42
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1776 Worldwide: Hong Kong Protesters Fly U.S. Flag, Sing National Anthem To Protest ChiCom Takeover
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 18:45
China horrified to see citizens take up famous symbol of freedom to fight their tyrannyThousands of pro-democracy Hong Kong demonstrators flooded the city's international airport on Monday, shutting down all flights in an escalation against Beijing's attempts to consolidate control over the autonomous region.
Amid the clashes with police, some demonstrators were seen waving the American flag and singing the U.S. national anthem because they promote and represent freedom and fighting tyranny.
Protestors in Hong Kong are using the American flag and anthem as a symbol of freedom to rally.pic.twitter.com/QNyJdQlG1Q
'-- Melissa_Strategic '­¸'­¸'­¸ (@Melis_Strategic) August 11, 2019
Needless to say, China is probably not happy to see Hong Kong citizens take up the flag to fight for freedom as they try to implement their communist takeover.
🇺🇸 Why are you carrying the American flag?
Here's what this Hong Kong protester says #HongKongProtests #é...港 #antiELAB pic.twitter.com/FC1yKczBYc
'-- Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 11, 2019
The protests began in the spring after the Hong Kong government proposed a bill that allows local authorities to detain and extradite people wanted in countries that Hong Kong doesn't have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan.
The protests have since escalated into a broader conflagration over Hong Kong's lack of democracy, rampant corruption, and increasingly closer ties with communist China.
The people of Hong Kong flying the American flag to protest their tyrannical government. (Source: TheMagicNumber_ on r/the_donald) #MAGA #TrumpTrain pic.twitter.com/dpmCeFa70Q
'-- Can't Dump the Trump (@cantdumptrump) August 7, 2019
China has called the shutdown of the Hong Kong airport an act of ''terrorism.''
''These violent, illegal actions must be met with a determined legal crackdown, with no softening of hands or any sign of mercy,'' said the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Spokesman Yang Guang. ''Hong Kong has arrived at a critical point.''
Protesters in Hong Kong have increasingly brandished the American flag as a symbol of resistance amid the threat of force from military and paramilitary forces from communist China.
America don't lose our Freedom 🇺🇸🇺🇸Stop 🛑 the Corruption , We the People are the Government🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/w8sfsbXkkd
'-- JW Branding (@JW_Branding) August 12, 2019
During a recent congressional testimony, The Intelligence Committee learns of the depths to which the Democrats are funded and answer to the ChiComs.
Photos show Chinese military massing in stadium near Hong Kong border - Business Insider
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 12:58
Satellite photos taken over Shenzhen, China, close to the border with Hong Kong, show amassed military vehicles being held in a football stadium.The photos, first published by The Associated Press, come just one day after Chinese state media published videos of military police massing in Shenzhen.The readying of Chinese military vehicles and troops comes as mass protests in Hong Kong continue into their 10th week.Military forces are being readied in Shenzhen as a warning to Hong Kong of China's combat readiness, Adam Ni, a researcher on Chinese security policy tweeted Tuesday. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories Satellite photographs taken close to mainland China's border with Hong Kong appear to show amassed military vehicles being held inside a football stadium.
Chinese security forces have been gathering in the city of Shenzhen in recent days, an apparent show of force as mass protests continue to roil Hong Kong.
Google Maps
The protest movement is now in its tenth week. On Monday and Tuesday, activists forced Hong Kong's international airport to shut down on two consecutive days.
Read more: Videos show a massive procession of Chinese military vehicles gathering along the Hong Kong border as China mulls over its next move in response to protests
The images, published by The Associated Press, show more than 100 vehicles, which appear to be large trucks, gathered in the soccer stadium at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. The pictures were taken on Monday, the AP said.
The images come 24 hours after the Global Times, China's state-run tabloid newspaper, published a compilation of footage showing the military trucks assembling in Shenzhen "in advance of apparent large-scale exercises."
Video showed numerous armored personnel carriers, trucks, and other vehicles belonging to the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, a paramilitary force responsible for riot control and counterterrorism, parading through the streets of Shenzhen.
A wider view of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center complex Associated Press
The Global Times also noted in its report that 12,000 police officers, tanks, helicopters, and amphibious vehicles gathered in Shenzhen on August 6 for what appeared to be anti-riot drills.
Adam Ni, a researcher on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Australian National University, said on Twitter that the military display was a brazen warning to Hong Kong of China's combat readiness.
"China is stepping up its signalling, and the message that it wants to convey is pretty clear: if the protests escalate further, Chinese armed forces will intervene..." Ni wrote in a Twitter thread alongside videos of the vehicles gathering.
The growing military presence being readied in Shenzhen comes in a week when protesters twice forced Hong Kong International Airport to shut down, cancelling hundreds of flights in the process.
Protesters overwhelmed the departure halls of the airport on both Monday and Tuesday, eventually leading to violent clashes with police late on Tuesday evening.
Protesters occupy Hong Kong International Airport. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Read more:'Sorry for the inconvenience': Hong Kong protesters apologized to furious passengers after the city's airport was paralyzed for a second day
Hong Kongers have been protesting for over two months in a series of demonstrations which began as a movement against a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of people from Hong Kong to mainland China.
Many in Hong Kong thought the bill was a breach of the "one country, two systems" agreement forged when Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997.
The protests have since morphed into a series of demonstrations against what many see as the infringement of democracy in Hong Kong, and against police brutality seen during the protests.
More: News UK Hong Kong Shenzhen China Military Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
Ministry of Truthiness
A Fossil Fuel Baron Just Bought USA Today
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 12:57
A fossil fuel baron is now an executive at the largest regional newspaper network in the United States.
On August 5, Gannett'--the owner of USA Today and regional newspapers in cities such as Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix and Des Moines'--merged with GateHouse Media.
GateHouse, a digital news network with bureaus in cities such as Austin, Eugene, Beach, and Newport, is owned by an investment firm called New Media Investment Group. owned in turn by Wes Edens' New Fortress Investment Group. The owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and a major donor to the Democratic National Convention, Edens also owns New Fortress Energy, a firm with investments in natural gas infrastructure worldwide.
''Press freedom and democracy decline as gas tycoon Wes Edens increases his media and political power '' as his Gatehouse Media acquires Gannett, creating the largest newspaper company in U.S. history,'' said Jeff Cohen, founding Director of the Park Center for Independent Media. ''With environmental struggles often localized and fought over issues like fracking and pipeline construction, it's a grave situation when a gas and fracking investor like Edens is the ultimate owner of an ever-increasing number of local dailies and weeklies.''
GateHouse purchased Gannett for $1.34 billion. It will now own 667 newspapers nationwide.
According to the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism's research on media consolidation, Gannett owns nearly a quarter of the newspapers listed among the top 25 largest media companies in the country.
One of those is the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the largest daily newspaper in Wisconsin. Milwaukee will play host to the Democratic National Convention in July 2020, with the festivities taking place inside of the arena for which the Bucks serve as the master leaseholder. On the whole, Wisconsin has five Gannett newspapers and another two publications owned by GateHouse.
Through New Fortress Energy, Edens owns a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Florida, which ships gas to Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has emerged as a major frontier for New Fortress' business ambitions in recent years. And New Fortress has stated in business filings that it will rely heavily on gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (''fracking'') from shale rock basins to send that product to market.
Gannett currently owns four newspapers in Florida, while GateHouse owns 27 different publications throughout the state.
Since June 2017, New Fortress Energy has moved to open a new natural gas power plant and frac sand processing plant'--fine-grained silica sand which creates fissures through which gas can flow during the fracking process'--in Ohio along the Ohio River. GateHouse has 54 publications based out of Ohio, while Gannett has three major regional newspapers.
In 2017, the firm also requested a permit from the Trump Administration to ship LNG by rail, which is currently prohibited under federal law. A regulatory filing shows that if a New Fortress Energy subsidiary lands a permit from the Delaware River Basin Commission to deepen a port situated in New Jersey along the Delaware River, it intends to ship 400 trucks loaded with LNG per day to that $800 million terminal. Gannett has four newspapers in New Jersey, while GateHouse has two publications in the state.
Image Credit: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Common Cause, a watchdog advocacy organization, has called the merger ''unprecedented'' and fears it could lead to cost-cutting layoffs for more local reporters. In a press release announcing the deal, the companies said the merger will lead to annual cost savings of $275-$300 million per year.
''The news industry is transforming due to technological changes,'' said Michael Copps, a former Commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission and an adviser for Common Cause. ''But at a time when thousands of reporters are currently walking the streets in search of jobs rather than working the beat in search of stories, more consolidation won't address the current crisis in journalism.
Cohen says this is particularly troubling for the future of reporting on the climate crisis.
''Given his gas and fracking interests, who would want to be doing environmental reporting at one of the Gatehouse/Gannett publications?,'' he asked rhetorically.
For his part, Mark Hertsgaard, author and environment correspondent for The Nation Magazine, says he believes the Edens-owned news network still has an ethical obligation to cover the climate crisis and its root causes.
''Climate change is the biggest news story of our time, and journalists have a sacred responsibility to inform the public about the dangers, and opportunities, at hand,'' he said ''Whatever his financial involvement with fossil fuels, as the new owner of the Gannett/USA Today Network, Wes Edens has a journalistic responsibility to allow, indeed encourage, his newsrooms to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the climate crisis.''
Hertsgaard has, in that vein, invited the conglomerate to join a climate change coverage initiative he has created called Covering Climate Now. A project of The Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation Magazine, Hertsgaard Covering Climate Now ''aims to help all news outlets do justice to this unfolding crisis.''
CBS And Viacom Complete Merger - CBS News
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 18:33
Viacom and CBS completed their $44 billion merger Thursday morning, creating a radio, television and film powerhouse to rival conglomerates Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co.A Viacom spokeswoman says the merger officially occurred when CBS stock was transferred to Viacom stock.
The decision followed Wednesday's approval of the merger by the Federal Communications Commission.
"This is a truly momentous and historic occasion for Viacom as we combine with CBS to create an unparalleled entertainment and information enterprise, with incomparable creative capability and extraordinary reach," said Viacom Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone. "Our businesses span all ages and all audiences, across virtually all media."
The FCC gave the companies one year to shed some TV stations to comply with rules that limit the percentage of national audience one company may reach through its own stations.
The companies also would have a year to comply with another FCC rule that bans one entity from owning two networks. Under their deal, the companies would have CBS and the fledgling UPN network, which Viacom owns.
The companies would hold onto the UPN network during the one-year period.
The FCC also is reviewing the dual network ban, and it could be relaxed by the time the companies had to comply with the agency's rule.
Last month, Viacom's chairman said keeping UPN under Viacom-CBS control was essential.
"There is no public service argument that could be made that would warrant the death of UPN, which is just what would happen if we don't get it," Sumner Redstone said. He said he hopes and expects they will be able to keep UPN. "If we keep it, it will succeed."
Regulators gave the merged company six months to abide by rules that limit how many television and radio stations one company can own in the same market. The agency ruled that in five markets the combined company would exceed the caps.
Commission approval is the final step in the process. The Justice Department last week announced that it had determined that the deal did not raise any antitrust concerns.
The deal, originally valued at $36 billion when it was announced, combines the owner of hip properties like MTV and VH1 with the old-line broadcast network that has brought viewers 60 Minutes and Murder, She Wrote.
Viacom's stock was up 1&1/4 to 55&5/8 in the last hour of trading Thursday.
The merger was announced last September, and approved by the two companies' stockholders in late December.
It gives CBS a television and film studio to provide shows for its network. Viacom gains major advertising outlets to promote the films and shows produced by Paramount and its Spelling Entertainment TV studio.
In addition to the two music stations and UPN, the Viacom empire includes the Showtime, Nickelodeon and TV Land television stations; Paramount Pictures and Paramount Television; Simon Schuster and Pocket Books; 19 broadcast stations; six amusement parks and a majority interest in Blockbuster video.
CBS Corp. brings to the deal the CBS Network, the Nashville Network, Country Music Television, two regional sports networks, King World television, Infinity Broadcasting and 16 owned-and-operated stations.
The marriage to Viacom followed a period in which CBS went through several complicated organizational changes. In November 1995, Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquired CBS, Inc., but the name of the entire company was changed in November 1997 to simply CBS. The same year, the company sold off its remaining industrial components.
Some media critics have blasted the CBS-Viacom deal.
When the merger was first announced, Janine Jackson of the advocacy group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting predicted it would, "open the floodgates for more giant media mergers, and accelerate the trend of media synchronizing their programming…What all that 'synergy' means for the public is less choice about where we get our information."
Ebola
Ebola Is Now Curable. Here's How the New Treatments Work | WIRED
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 11:29
Amid unrelenting chaos and violence, scientists and doctors in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been running a clinical trial of new drugs to try to combat a year-long Ebola outbreak. On Monday, the trial's cosponsors at the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health announced that two of the experimental treatments appear to dramatically boost survival rates.
While an experimental vaccine previously had been shown to shield people from catching Ebola, the news marks a first for people who already have been infected. ''From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable,'' said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director general of the Institut National de Recherche Biomedicale in the DRC, which has overseen the trial's operations on the ground.
Megan Molteni covers DNA technologies, medicine, and genetic privacy for WIRED.Starting last November, patients in four treatment centers in the country's east, where the outbreak is at its worst, were randomly assigned to receive one of four investigational therapies'--either an antiviral drug called remdesivir or one of three drugs that use monoclonal antibodies. Scientists concocted these big, Y-shaped proteins to recognize the specific shapes of invading bacteria and viruses and then recruit immune cells to attack those pathogens. One of these, a drug called ZMapp, is currently considered the standard of care during Ebola outbreaks. It had been tested and used during the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, and the goal was to see if those other drugs could outperform it. But preliminary data from the first 681 patients (out of a planned 725) showed such strong results that the trial has now been stopped.
Patients receiving Zmapp in the four trial centers experienced an overall mortality rate of 49 percent, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Mortality rates are in excess of 75 percent for infected individuals who don't seek any form of treatment.) The monoclonal antibody cocktail produced by a company called Regeneron Pharmaceuticals had the biggest impact on lowering death rates, down to 29 percent, while NIAID's monoclonal antibody, called mAb114, had a mortality rate of 34 percent. The results were most striking for patients who received treatments soon after becoming sick, when their viral loads were still low'--death rates dropped to 11 percent with mAb114 and just 6 percent with Regeneron's drug, compared with 24 percent with ZMapp and 33 percent with Remdesivir.
Drugs based on monoclonal antibodies have become a mainstay of modern medicine'--fending off a variety of diseases from cancer to lupus. But it takes many years of painstaking reverse-engineering to make them. Zmapp, for instance, was developed by infecting mice with Ebola and then collecting the antibodies the mice produced against the virus. Those antibodies then had to be further engineered to look more like a human antibody, so as not to provoke an immune reaction. Ebola infiltrates its victims' cells using spiky proteins on the virus's outer shell, so researchers screened the antibodies for the ones that did the best job of binding to those proteins. Block access, and the virus can't replicate and spread. But compared with other viruses, Ebola is large and has the ability to change shape, making it difficult for any one antibody to block its infection. That's why a cocktail approach has become favored, like the Regeneron product'--a combination of three monoclonal antibodies generated first in mice.
''Today's news puts us one more step to saving more lives.''
Mike Ryan, WHO director of health emergencies
An even better solution, some have posited, would be to mine the serum of Ebola survivors and harvest the DNA from the white blood cells that make antibodies. That would yield a set of genetic instructions for making antibodies with a proven track record against the Ebola virus. That's what the NIH's mAb114 is'--an antibody isolated from the blood of a survivor of a 1995 outbreak in Kikwit, DRC. Scientists discovered it a few years ago'--they had been circulating in his body for more than a decade.
China
Trump Offers Meeting With China's Xi To Resolve 'Hong Kong Problem' : NPR
Thu, 15 Aug 2019 11:38
China's President Xi Jinping and President Trump, chat as they pose for the group photo at the beginning of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June. Trump has offered to meet with Xi about resolving protests in Hong Kong. picture alliance/picture alliance via Getty Image hide caption
toggle caption picture alliance/picture alliance via Getty Image China's President Xi Jinping and President Trump, chat as they pose for the group photo at the beginning of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June. Trump has offered to meet with Xi about resolving protests in Hong Kong.
picture alliance/picture alliance via Getty Image President Trump has proposed a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss how to "humanely solve" months of protests that have racked Hong Kong.
In a Wednesday evening tweet, Trump called Xi "a great leader who very much has the respect of his people."
"He is a good man in a 'tough business,'" the president added. "I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?"
Trump's remarks came after some ten weeks of pro-democracy protests that have frequently devolved into clashes with police, paralyzing the Asian financial hub. Most recently, thousands of demonstrators occupied Hong Kong's international airport, causing the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
The president's tweet on Wednesday suggested that Hong Kong's unrest was Beijing's to solve, ignoring an agreement between London and Beijing that led to the 1997 handover of the former British colony. The agreement is meant to guarantee the territory's right to its own laws, police force and judiciary. The deal, known informally as "One China, Two Systems," remains in effect until 2047.
I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a ''tough business.'' I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2019Although Beijing had no immediate reply to Trump's tweet, Hu Xijin, the editor of the People's Daily, a tabloid run by China's ruling Communist Party, tweeted that the U.S. president "hasn't linked trade talks with [the] Hong Kong problem. It won't work even if he does so."
President Trump hasn't linked trade talks with Hong Kong problem. It won't work even if he does so. Trade war has dragged on to now, the US has no more economic levers to pressure China. If Beijing determines to intervene, it won't worry about US sanctioning Hong Kong. https://t.co/HUYxXXxage
'-- Hu Xijin èƒé--è› (@HuXijin_GT) August 15, 2019Trump's remarks came on the same day and in contrast to a State Department statement that it was "deeply concerned" about China respecting Hong Kong's autonomy.
"We condemn violence and urge all sides to exercise restraint, but remain staunch in our support for freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in Hong Kong," a State Department spokesperson said. "The ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong reflect the sentiment of Hongkongers and their broad and legitimate concerns about the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy."
In recent days, Beijing's state media have aired ominous footage of China's People's Armed Police conducting exercises in Shenzhen, just across the border with Hong Kong. In the video, armored personnel carriers are seen rumbling down Shenzhen streets, evoking memories of the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in which Chinese troops killed thousands of pro-democracy protesters.
On Thursday, CPAP troops in fatigues could be seen in a Shenzhen stadium as part of what were described as "large-scale exercises," according to Reuters.
Trump's apparent offer on Hong Kong comes after a similar remark he made in June about India and Pakistan regarding their dispute over Kashmir.
Trump said Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate the Kashmir dispute. The Indian government quickly disputed the president.
Earlier this month, India, which controls part of Kashmir, revoked the province's decades-old special status, arrested hundreds of local politicians and cut off internet and telephone service there. Pakistan has reacted with anger, saying India's actions could eventually lead to war.
Green New Deal
Climate activist Greta Thunberg sets sail for NYC
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:33
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is setting sail for New York, heading to a UN summit on a zero-emissions yacht skippered by a member of Monaco's ruling family.
The 16-year-old Swede, whose school strikes have inspired children across the world to protest against global warming, refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.
But she has been offered a berth on the Malizia II racing yacht, along with her father Svante and a filmmaker to document the journey, that will allow her to attend UN talks with a clear conscience to discuss the climate crisis in September.
The 18-metre boat is skippered by Pierre Casiraghi, vice president of the Monaco Yacht Club and a member of the principality's ruling family, and German round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann.
The journey takes about two weeks. The yacht can travel at speeds of around 35 knots (70km/h) but will be heading into the wind for much of the time so will be slower, and the captain wants a smooth ride.
"The objective is to arrive safe and sound in New York," Mr Herrmann said as he made final preparations in Plymouth.
Greta has become a figurehead for climate action with her stark warnings of catastrophe if the world does not act now to cut carbon emissions and curb global warming.
Speaking to AFP before she set sail, the activist said: "Of course there are many people who don't understand and accept the science.
"I will just have to do what I have always done - ignore them and just tell the science as it is," she added in reference to her North American trip.
"We create an international opinion and movement so that people stand together and put pressure on the people in power."
The yacht is made for racing, with foils, or wings, that lift it out of the water for a faster and smoother ride.
Inside it is sparse, fitted with high-tech navigation equipment, an on-board ocean laboratory to monitor CO2 levels in the water, and four bunks - Mr Herrmann and Mr Casiraghi will share one, sleeping in turns.
(L-R) Greta Thunberg, her father Svante, and German skipper Boris Herrmann onboard the Malizia II The toilet is a blue plastic bucket, complete with a biodegradable bag that can be thrown overboard, and meals will be freeze-dried packets of vegan food mixed with water heated on a tiny gas stove.
But state-of-the-art solar panels adorn the yacht's deck and sides while there are two hydro-generators, which together provide all the electricity they need on board.
Greta has never sailed before this week, and got seasick on their first journey out of Plymouth on Monday, but said she was looking forward to the adventure.
The teenager, who has spent hours on trains across Europe to spread her message, was relaxed about the basic conditions.
"You can't really ask for that much if you get to sail across the Atlantic for free," she said, adding: "I am grateful for what I have."
OTG
Manhattan DA Cy Vance Made Google Give Up Info on Everyone in Area in Hunt for Antifa After Proud Boys Fight
Tue, 13 Aug 2019 23:00
When Gavin McInnes'--founder of the violent, far-right group The Proud Boys'--spoke to a Manhattan Republican club last October, the neighborhood response was less than welcoming. Protesters took to the normally sedate Upper East Side block with chants and spray paint. The Proud Boys responded with fists and kicks. Nearly a year later, as the assault and riot charges against four Proud Boys go to trial, prosecutors revealed that they had turned to an alarming new surveillance tool in this case: a reverse search warrant.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office admitted it demanded Google hand over account information for all devices used in parts of the Upper East Side. They didn't do this to find the Proud Boys; they did it to find Antifa members.
Reverse search warrants have been used in other parts of the country, but this is the first time one was disclosed in New York. Unlike a traditional warrant, where law enforcement officials request information on a specific phone or individual, reverse warrants allow law enforcement to target an entire neighborhood. Police and prosecutors create a ''geofence'''--a map area'--and demand information on anyone standing in the zone. This flips the logic of search warrants on its head. Rather than telling service providers the name or phone number of a suspect, reverse search warrants start with the location and work backwards.
NSA Whistleblower Confirms "They Can Use Your Data Against You Any Time" '' True Pundit
Mon, 12 Aug 2019 18:47
A bombshell interview with William Binney, an NSA Whistleblower, has just been released! Binney says that President Donald Trump is being framed and that we the people are subjected to the constant surveillance and tracking authoritarian regimes are known for.
('...)
Binney goes through the process that unfolded in order for the government to get access to every single American's personal data, information, and be able to conduct mass surveillance of all of us on a scale only heard of in tyrannies. Binney also says that the government used 9/11 as the excuse to spy on all of us, but they had wanted to for a long time. By the end of September 2011, the equipment began to pour into the NSA that would allow mass surveillance.
It really gets horrifying when Holliday asks Binney what the implications are for all of us. He responds:
''If you become a target, the implication is, they will retroactively analyze every phone call, every email, every financial transaction, everything electronic that you've ever done. And like for example in the case of Elliot Spitzer, when he was going after the bankers for defrauding people in the 2007/2008 financial crisis, he was actually going to criminally prosecute them. They had to protect their bankers so they had to get rid of Elliot Spitzer. So what was the cause for Elliot Spitzer to be investigated? There wasn't any, ok? But he's going after our bankers and so they went into the data and found some exchange with him with a prostitute and they used that against him. If you have all the data about somebody, this is the kind of thing you can do.'' ''William Binney
If you think this interview gets more comforting from there, you'd be wrong.
''The secret government, the military-intelligence complex, all of the deep state, can now protect itself because they have this data from anyone trying to expose what they're doing.'' '' READ MORE
The Last Circle - book
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 11:22
INTRODUCTION
RE: "The Last Circle"
The following condensed version of The Last Circle was provided in October 1996to a secret Investigative Committee comprised of Congress people, lawyers andformer POW's at their request. I originally contacted Congresswoman MaxineWaters in Washington D.C. and offered information relative to CIA drugtrafficking, but was told the information was too complex and would I mindputting the information into a newspaper story, get it published and send it toher office?
I agreed and contacted a local newspaper reporter who, after reading portions ofthe material, decided it needed to be reviewed by individuals who had specialknowledge of CIA drug trafficking, arms shipments, and biological warfareweapons.
After a brief meeting with these individuals, former Special Forces soldiersfrom the Vietnam era, they asked for copies of the manuscript, guaranteed animmediate congressional inquiry, and advised me NOT to place the information onthe Internet as they feared the information could be, in theirwords, "taken as just another anti-government conspiracy."
I condensed the manuscript into the attached treatise, covering informationrelative to THEIR focus, and sent it to them along with key documents. Shortlyafterward, they re-contacted me and set up elaborate security measures to insuremy safety. As of this writing, I've had no need to institute those measures.
I have in my possession five boxes of documents, obtained from a convictedmethamphetamine chemist whose closest friends were a 20-year CIAoperative and a former FBI Senior-Agent-in-Charge of the Los Angeles andWashington D.C. bureaus. The labyrinthine involvements of these people andtheir corporate partners is revealed in this manuscript, along with informationobtained by Washington D.C. journalist Danny Casolaro prior tohis death in 1991.
A great deal of investigation still needs to be accomplished. I have neitherthe financial means nor the ability to obtain "evidence" for "prosecution." I am simply an investigative writer, placing this information into the publicforum in hopes that someone, somewhere, will grasp the significance of the dataand initiate a full-scale investigation with subsequent subpoena power.
With subpoena power, government agents can testify (some kept anonymous in thismanuscript) who would otherwise lose their jobs and retirement if they cameforward. Witnesses can be protected and/or provided immunity, and financialtransactions of government and underworld figures can be scrutinized.
To date, I have not had more than one hour conversation with anyone associatedwith any Congressional investigation, and therefore am extremely limited in myability to present the information I have. Much of what I learned during myfive-year investigation cannot at this point be inserted into a manuscript. Imust be assured the information and witnesses will be handled appropriately.
I personally do not believe the Department of Justice will ultimately "prosecute"this or any other drug trafficking case if it involves government officials. But I have made the effort to put forth enough information to generate interestand show good faith. I hope it will be of some value to the American public.
Please keep in mind as you read the attached pages that the complex corporatestructures and technological projects described herein "may" have beennothing more than an elaborate smoke and mirrors cover for narcoticstrafficking.
This aspect of my investigation was corroborated by several governmentinvestigators, one of whom was a House Judiciary investigator, who spent threeyears investigating the Inslaw stolen software case and said in response to myfindings:
"There's some great information here. You did a very good investigativejob, I have to commend you on that. I realize it's only a fraction ofeverything you have. What you have done, you have put the pieces of thewhole thing together. Little bits and pieces of things that I have knownabout, that I had theorized about, you have found answers to those specificquestions." (See Chapter 13 for entire conversation). That investigatoris now in the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.
To those interested, nearly everything noted in the attached manuscript issupported by documents or tape recorded interviews. Some are extremely bulkyand not quoted extensively in the manuscript, such as lengthy FBI wire tapsummaries.
I wish to thank Garby Leon, formerly Director of Development at Joel SilverProductions, Warner Bros. in Burbank, California for tirelessly prompting me toget a first draft of The Last Circle written in 1994 and helping me withcountless tasks during our joint investigation of the death of Danny Casolaro.
Copyright 1994 - All Rights Reserved
By Carol MarshallNOTE:
This is a FIRST DRAFT, bare-bones, unpolished manuscript without prose,characterizations etc.
CHAPTER 1
For the deputies of the Mariposa Sheriff's Department, theawakening occurred on June 24, 1980, when deputy Ron Van Meterdrowned in an alleged boating accident on Lake McClure. Thesearch party consisted mainly of three divers, deputies Dave Beavers,Rod Cusic and Gary Estep. Although adjacent counties offeredadditional divers, sheriff Paul Paige refused outside help, even a minisubmarineoffered by Beavers' associate.
In the shallow, placid waters of Lake McClure, Van Meter's body was not recovered that week, and indeed would not be found untilten years later, in September, 1990 when his torso, wrapped in a fish net andweighted down by various objects, including a fire extinguisher, washed ashore afew hundred yards from where Sergeant Roderick Sinclair's houseboat had oncebeen moored.
Van Meter's widow, Leslie, had been at home baking cookies whenshe was notified of her husband's disappearance. She was an Indian girl who hadno affinity with sheriff Paul Paige. The horror began for her that day also. Her home was ransacked and her husband's briefcase and diary were seized by theMariposa Sheriff's department. Only she and a few deputies knewwhat Van Meter's diary contained. He'd told his wife he'd taken out a speciallife insurance policy two weeks before, but after the search that was missingalso.
Leslie was taken to a psychiatric clinic for evaluation shortly after theincident.The story surfaced years later, one tiny bubble at a time. Theselfinvolved little community of Mariposa did not cough up itssecrets gladly. On March 23, 1984, Leslie Van Meter filed aCitizen's Complaint with the Mariposa County Sheriff's department alleging thatthe Sheriff's office had been negligent and unprofessional in theirinvestigation of her husband's disappearance. His body had still not beenfound, despite private searches by Sergeant Beavers and otherfriends of the missing deputy. She wanted the case reopened.
Paul Paige was no longer sheriff, but newly elected Sheriff Ken Mattheysresponded by reopening the investigation. Investigator Raymond Jenkins, a Merced College Police Chief, and retired FBI agent Tom Walsh fromMerced, were notified by Sheriff Mattheys in October, 1984 that the Van Meter case had been reopened and he wanted their help in cleaning up theSheriff's Department.
Their investigation led them straight to the doorstep of MCA Corporation(Music Corporation of America), parent company to Curry Company, the largestconcessionaire in Yosemite National Park. A major drug network had surfaced inthe park, compelling one park ranger, Paul Berkowitz, to go before the HouseInterior Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation to testify about drugdistribution by Curry Company officials.
Ed Hardy, the president of Curry Company, was closely associated with MariposaCounty officials, in particular, Mariposa District Attorney Bruce Eckerson,County Assessor Steve Dunbar, and Congressman Tony Coelho, whosedistrict encompassed Mariposa and the Park. The annual camping trips that thethree men took together was encouraged by the local townsfolk because most ofMariposa's tax base emanated from Curry Company.Coelho and Hardy were regularfixtures around town, seen at most of the social events. Coelho even cooked andserved spaghetti dinners for the whole town annually at the Mariposa FairGrounds, and purchased property in partnership with one member of the MariposaBoard of Supervisors. In fact, Mariposa was one of the first places he bidfarewell to after resigning from Congress to avoid an investigation of hisfinances.
Meanwhile, investigator Raymond Jenkins hadfollowed the drug trail from Yosemite back to the Mariposaairport, where sheriff's deputies were seen regularly loading and unloadingpackages from planes in the dead of night.
One Indian girl complained bitterly about deputies using the Sara Priestland allottment (reservation) to grow marijuana and operate methamphetaminelabs. Jenkins, by now retired from the position of PoliceChief of Merced College, was called in to interview the Indian girl. That sameday, as a favor, he provided me with copies of his notes. I followed up with atape recorded interview at her home in Bear valley. Her father and uncleoperated a small auto dismantling business on the reservation in Midpines, andafter locating them and gaining their confidence, the uncle drove me out toWhiskey Flats, the site of the marijuana and methamphetamine lab operations.That week I rented a horse and rode down into the rocky, isolated valley ofWhiskey Flats. Brush and shrubbery tore at the saddle on the horse and at theend of the dirt path I encountered three snarling Rottweiler dogs who put thehorse into a frenzied lather.
Nevertheless, I managed to photograph the irrigation system, artesian spring andpond from which the water was supplied as well as various points ofidentification for future reconnaisance. I later returned in a fourwheel drivepickup truck and managed to view the trailer and lab shack.
The tape recorded interview with the Indian girl, the photos and notes from mydiscovery were provided to the Stanislaus County Drug Task Force, butjurisdictionally, they couldn't enter Mariposa County withoutauthority of the Mariposa Sheriff's department. It was a catch 22 situation.Ultimately I provided the same information anonymously to several relatedagencies. It was not until 1993 that the fields were eradicated, and 1994,before the labs were raided. However, no arrests of any deputies were everforthcoming. In fact, no arrests occurred at all, except for a fewnonEnglish speaking Mexican nationals who had handled the "cooking." The head of the Los Angeles Drug Enforcement Agency noted to a localnewspaper that the meth lab was part of a large California drug network, butthey were unable to identify the kingpins.
On July 6, 1985, Mrs. Van Meter filed a "Request forOfficial Inquiry" with the State of California Department of Boating andWaterways stating that no satisfactory investigation was ever conducted intothe matter of her husband's disappearance.
That same month, shortly after a meeting at Lake McClure withMrs. Van Meter, Sheriff Mattheys mysteriously resigned from hisposition at the Mariposa Sheriff's Department. Mattheys revealedto reporter Anthony Pirushki that he had been ordered by two county supervisorsand the county's attorney "to stay away from the Van Meter investigation." But that was not the reason he resigned. The whole story would not surfaceuntil seven years later when a reporter for the Mariposa Guide interviewed him.
However, while still in office, Mattheys and his internal affairs investigatorshad learned the reason for Van Meter's disappearance. A fewweeks prior to his death in 1980, Van Meter had driven to the Attorney General'soffice in Sacramento and reported drug dealing and other types ofcorruption within the Mariposa Sheriff's Department. This,according to his friends whom he had confided in, deputies Dave Beavers,a fifteen year veteran of the sheriff's department, and Rod Cusic, aseventeen year veteran. Both deputies were ultimately forced out of thedepartment and retired on stress leave.
On that same day, reserve deputy Lucky Jordan had driven to the Fresno office ofthe FBI to report similar information. According to Jordan, they had split upand reported to separate agencies in the event "something" happenedto one of them.The crux of the story was State Attorney General Van De Kamp'sresponse to the requested investigaion by Ron Van Meter. WhenRon returned home from Sacramento, he was confronted by Sheriff Paige. Paigehad received a call from the Attorney General informing him of the visit andits contents, and the sheriff was livid about Van Meter's betrayal.Van Meterhad been photographing and journalizing drug activity by deputies at LakeMcClure. He was part of a California StateAbatement Program which involved harvesting and eradicating marijuana fields inYosemite National Park and adjacent counties. Instead, the harvested marijuanawas being stored in abandoned cars and towed out of town by a local wreckerunder contract with the sheriff's department. It was also being distributed ata hidden cove at Lake McClure.
On June 24, 1980, frustrated and angry at the Attorney General for betrayinghim, Van Meter had borrowed a boat and was on his way to arrestthe deputies at Lake McClure himself. He never returned. The investigation of Van Meter's "accident" was initially handled bySergeant Roderick Sinclair, who could not have known on that fateful day that inexactly three years, three months, and nineteen days, he would enter theTwilight Zone where his own private hell awaited him.
******
The first substantial hint that a tentacle of the Octopus had slithered intoMariposa County occurred on March 5, 1983 when a Mariposa CountySheriff's vehicle scouting Queen Elizabeth II's motorcade route rounded a curvein the Yosemite National Park foothills, crossed a highway and collided headonwith a Secret Service car, killing three Secret Service agents. CHP (CaliforniaHighway Patrol) Assistant Chief Richard Hanna reported that the collisionoccurred at 10:50 a.m. between Coulterville and La Grange on Highway 132 about25 minutes ahead of Queen Elizabeth's motorcade.CHP Sergeant Bob Schillyreported that Mariposa County Sheriff's Sergeant Roderick Sinclair, 43, wasdriving with his partner, Deputy Rod McKean, 51, when "for some reason, [hedidn't] know why," Sinclair crossed the center line and hit the second ofthe three Secret Service cars, which went tumbling down a 10foot embankment.
The three Secret Service agents killed in the collision were identified asGeorge P. LaBarge, 41, Donald Robinson, 38, and Donald A. Bejcek, 29. Sinclair,who had sustained broken ribs and a fractured knee, was first stabilized atFremont Hospital in Mariposa, then transported several days laterto Modesto Memorial Hospital.
Years later, several nurses who had been present when Sinclair was brought intoFremont Hospital confided that Sinclair had been drugged on the day of "theQueen's accident" as it became known in Mariposa. Formonths Sinclair had been receiving huge daily shots of Demerol, "enough tokill most men," according to one billing clerk. Some former deputies whohad feared punitive measures if they spoke up, later corroborated the story ofthe nurses.
Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney James White in Fresno ordered Dr. ArthurDahlem's files seized to prove Sinclair's drug addiction. Sinclair's Mariposadoctor and close friend had been prescribing heavy sedatives to him for years. When White attempted to prosecute Sinclair for criminal negligence, he wascalled into chambers during the federal probe and told by U.S. District CourtJudge Robert E. Coyle to "drop the criminal investigation" becauseSinclair's drug problem was not relevant to the prosecution and the drug recordscould not be used in court. Judge Coyle's reasoning was that no blood tests hadbeen taken on Sinclair at the Fremont Hospital on the day of the accident,therefore no case could be made against him.
In fact, the blood tests HAD been taken, but later disappeared.A significantpiece of information relative to Judge Coyle's background was passed to meduring my investigation of the Queen's accident by retired FBI agent ThomasWalsh. Allegedly, the Judge was once the attorney of record for Curry Company(owned by MCA Corporation) in Yosemite National Park. I later learned, in 1992,that Robert Booth Nichols had strong ties to MCA Corporation through EugeneGiaquinto, president of MCA Corporation Home Entertainment Division. Giaquintohad been on the Board of Directors of Nichols' corporation, MIL, Inc. (MeridianInternational Logistics, Inc.) and also held 10,000 shares of stock in theholding corporation. MIL, Inc. was later investigated by the Los Angeles FBIfor allegedly passing classified secrets to overseas affiliates in Japan andAustralia. It is interesting to note, though unrelated, that shortly afterward,the Japanese purchased MCA Corporation, one of the largest corporate purchasesto take place in American history.
Relative to the Queens accident, in the civil trial that followed the tragicaccident, Judge Coyle ruled that both Sinclair and the deceased Secret Serviceagents were at fault. Mariposa County was ordered to pay 70percent of the claim filed by the widows, and the Secret Service to pay 30percent. The county's insurance company paid the claim, and ironically,Sinclair was subsequently promoted to Commander of the Mariposa Sheriff'sDepartment where he is still employed as of this writing.
In an interview on March 7, 1988, at Yoshino's Restaurant in Fresno, former U.S.Attorney James White recalled that the original CHP report on the Queensaccident was sent to the State Attorney General's office (Van De Kamp) inSacramento. The report was first received by Arnold Overoye, who agreed withWhite that Sinclair should be prosecuted. But when the report crossed Van DeKamp's desk, he told Overoye and his assistant to discard it trash it.
Van De Kamp then appointed Bruce Eckerson, the Mariposa CountyDistrict Attorney, to take charge of the investigation and submit a new report. Coincidentally, Bruce Eckerson's disclosure statements on file at the MariposaCounty Courthouse indicated that he owned stock in MCA EntertainmentCorporation. White added that ALL of the crack M.A.I.T.S. team CHP officersinvolved in the original investigation either resigned or were transferred (orfired) afterward. The CHP Commander and the Deputy Commander who supervised theM.A.I.T.S. investigation also resigned as did Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitehimself after the coverup took place.
However, White noted that before he resigned, he quietly filed with StephanLaPalm of the U.S. Attorney's office in Sacramento the transcripts of the trialand an affidavit which listed the "hallucinatory" drugs Sinclair hadused prior to the accident. I privately continued with the Queen's accidentinvestigation, interviewing deputies Dave Beavers and Rod Cusicwho had been privy to Sinclair's drugged condition on the day of the accident.
Beavers, who was the first deputy to arrive on the scene,maintained four years later, in 1987, that he was cognizant of Sinclair'scondition, but when he was questioned by James White he was NOT ASKED about thedrugs. (James White had by then been ordered to drop the criminal investigationand stay away from the drug aspect of the case).
In January 1988, deputy Rod Cusic strode into the offices of theMariposa Guide, a competitor newspaper to the Mariposa Gazette,and stated that he was "told by Rod Sinclair to lie to a Grand Jury"about Sinclair's drug addiction and the resulting Queen's accident. Cusic addedthat he officially disclosed this to the Fresno FBI on April 26, 1984 and againon October 9, 1987. In 1987, Cusic also noted that he witnessed a boobytrappedincendiary device explode at Rod Sinclair's home during a visit to hisresidence. Additionally, earlier on, Sinclair allegedly barricaded himselfinside his home and boobytrapped the property, as witnessed by numerous deputieswho tried to persuade him to come out.
While reviewing old newspaper clippings from the MariposaGazette, I discovered an odd sidebar to the story. In December, 1984, duringthe Queen's accident civil trial in Fresno, U.S. Attorney James White hadintroduced testimony that Sinclair's vehicle contained "a myriad ofautomatic weapons including a boobytrapped bomb" when the collisionoccurred on March 5, 1983. It was not until 1991 that I discovered the depth ofthe coverup.
A CBS television executive and a Secret Service agent who had ridden in thethird car of the Queen's motorcade in 1983, arrived in Mariposato enlist my help in putting the pieces of the puzzle together on the Queen'saccident. The Secret Service agent's best friend had been the driver of the carin which all three agents were killed. I signed a contract with the televisionexecutive for the sale of the story then drove them to the site of the accident,then to the site of where the damaged vehicle was stored near Lake McClure. The Secret Service agent broke down at the sight of the vehicle,remembering the gruesome appearance of his dead friend in the front seat. Heturned, tears welling in his eyes, and said, "His heart burst right throughhis chest and was laying in his lap when I found him."
Dave Beavers joined us the next day. As did former sheriff KenMattheys. Beavers did not know that the same Secret Service agent whom he wassitting with in the car was the man who had tried to pull Sinclair out of thesheriff's vehicle on the day of the accident. There had been a scuffle, Beaversinsisting that Sinclair go to the hospital with "his own people," andthe Secret Service ultimately conceding.The Secret Service agent reflected sadlythat they didn't know to ask the hospital for blood tests on Sinclair that day,didn't know of his drug addiction. By the time the case went to court, therecords at the hospital were gone.
Two weeks after the agent left Mariposa, I received a packetcontaining copies of Sinclair's drug records for three years prior to theaccident. They were the same records that U.S. District Court Judge RobertCoyle had disallowed in the Queen's accident trial. But it was not untilproducer Don Thrasher, a tenyear veteran of ABC News "20/20," came totown, that I learned of Sinclair's background, or the extent of his addiction.
By chance, at a book signing engagement at B. Dalton Bookstore, I had mentionedto the manager, Shaula Brent, that my next book contained information about theQueens accident.Surprised, Shaula blurted out that she had worked at FremontHospital when Sinclair was brought in from the accident. Shaula recounted thefollowing: Rod Sinclair was brought into Fremont Hospital and placed in a roomwith an armed "FBI" agent outside the door. Sinclair had beenreceiving huge shots of Demerol in the arm every day prior to the accident, byorder of Dr. Arthur Dahlem. Shaula noted that Sinclair was a big man and theamount of Demerol he had been receiving would have killed most men. After theQueen's accident, all drugs were withdrawn from Sinclair, and employees,including Shaula, could hear him raving aloud for days from his hospital room. The employees at the hospital were instructed not to speak about or repeat whattook place at the hospital while Sinclair was there.
Because Shaula and her friend, Barbara Locke, who also worked at the hospital,were suspicious about Sinclair's hospital records, they secretly took photostatsof the records "before they were destroyed by the hospital." BloodHAD been drawn on Sinclair on the day of the Queen's accident, and he HAD beenunder the influence, according to Shaula. Shaula gave the names of six nurseswho were witness to Sinclair's condition at the time he was brought into FremontHospital. When his body was finally drugfree, Sinclair was transported, againsthis wishes, to Modesto Hospital.
******
In January, 1992, the final pieces to the puzzle fell into place. Sinclair'sbackground had been the key all along. Producer Don Thrasher hadinterviewed the Secret Service agent and, although the information he obtainedwould not be used in his production, he advised me to follow up. The SecretService corraborated the following profile: Sinclair's father had been amilitary attache to General Douglas MacArthur during World War II. (I hadprivately mused how many of MacArthur's men later became arms of the Octopus). In Japan, after the war, Colonel Sinclair (sr.) supervised the training ofselected Japanese in intelligence gathering operations.
According to the Secret Service, he was an "international figure,"highly regarded in the intelligence community. Rod Sinclair, Jr. attended school in Japan during this time. He laterreportedly worked in the Army C.I.D. in a nonmilitary or civilian capacity,allegedly receiving training at Fort Liggett in San Luis Obispo, a trainingcenter for military intelligence operations.
Could it have been possible for Colonel Sinclair, Sr. to have called upon oldfriends in high places to rescue his son, Rod, from the Queen's accidentinvestigation? Did the Octopus have enough power to alter an investigation ofthe death of three Secret Service agents? According to the Secret Serviceagent in Los Angeles, it did. And he intended to tell the story after heretired.
CHAPTER 2
By this time three consecutive grand jury foreman's had sought help from theAttorney General, to no avail. It came to pass that one of the deputies, DaveBeavers, was having trouble obtaining his "stress leave"pay and hired a Jackson, California lawyer to represent him in the case. Thelawyer, Ben Wagner, not only interviewed Beavers, but began interviewing otherdeputies who corroborated Beavers' story. Most of them, thirteen in all, had atone time or another testified before the grand jury and subsequently beenforced out of the department. Interestingly, none of the deputies knew "why"the others had been been placed on stress leave or resigned until Wagner finallyassembled them together and the story was aired.
At that point some of the former grand jury members were called in to confirmthe testimony of the individual deputies. Most refused to speak up, but a fewcorroborated the deputies' story. Ultimately, after numerous meetings, thegroup of deputies and grand jurors formed and later incorporated an organizationthey called D.I.G. (Decency in Government).
By now, Wagner was carrying a gun inside and out of Mariposa forthe first time in his life and writing letters to the Attorney General, the FBI,and even President Ronald Reagan. One response was forthcoming, from a specialagent at the Fresno Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement.Thisagent listened to Kay Ritter, a former grand jury foreman and several deputiesafter reviewing Wagner's evidence.
Wagner was contemplating a huge civil rights lawsuit against the county ofMariposa, but it was imperative that he first understand "why"the attorney general refused to help these people.When the special agent droveto Sacramento and reviewed the files within the attorney general's officeemanating from Mariposa, and talked to some of the office staff there, helearned that everything pertaining to Mariposa was automatically "trashed"when it crossed the A/G's desk.
Disgusted, the agent called Ben Wagner and told him "Go ahead with thelawsuit." He had no idea why all the grand jury documents had beentrashed, but he was convinced no help would be forthcoming from the attorneygeneral's office.
On November 20, 1987, Wagner filed with the U.S. District Court in Fresno thefirst of two lawsuits, later revealed in a Sacramento newspaper to be thelargest civil rights lawsuits ever recorded in California history. Newspaperreporters and television crews flocked to Wagner for interviews. In oneinstance, Wagner, former Sergeant Dave Beavers and others stood infront of the Fresno FBI building while being interviewed by Channel 3 SacramentoNews.
On camera, without hesitation, Beavers recalledobserving deputies carrying packages of drugs from the Gold CoinSaloon, a notorious drug hangout, and placing the packages in the trunk of theirpatrol car. A subsequent raid indicated the drugs had been stored by the ownerin a historic underground tunnel once used by the infamous bandit, JuaquinMurietta, to escape the sheriff's posse.
Meanwhile, on February 10, 1988, attorney Wagner filed at the U.S. DistrictCourt in Sacramento a Writ of Mandamus against John Van De Camp, the StateAttorney General; George Vinson, regional director of the Fresno FBI; GeorgeDeukemejian, then Governor of California, and David F. Levi, United StatesAttorney for refusing to investigate corruption in MariposaCounty.
The citizens of Mariposa were choosing sides, writing letters tothe editor, arguing amongst themselves, and being interviewed on the sidewalksby news media. D.I.G. was the talk of the town. On February 17, 1988, CapitolNews Service in Sacramento ran a story entitled, "Law & Order Failingon Hill County," by Jerry Goldberg. The article noted that Capitol NewsService had had discussions with several Attorney General staff members who "stonewalledquestions about any investigation of charges or direct answers on thewillingness of Van de Kamp to meet with the citizen's group [D.I.G.]."
Goldberg mentioned the "Queen's accident" in his article: "TheFresno case charges destruction of records on individuals [Commander RodSinclair] involved in the case. This includes possible information about thefatal accident which occurred in the area [of Mariposa County]when an escort vehicle involved in the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1983[crashed.]"
Goldberg went on to note that "several people had received threats aboutdangerous things happening to them if they continued to stand up to the sheriffand district attorney." A San Joaquin County official, who asked not to benamed, told Goldberg that a key element to the problems in MariposaCounty "related to the fatal accident which occurred to Queen Elizabeth'sescort vehicle."
On February 19, 1988, Ben Wagner's wife, a legal secretary, sent a letter toPresident Ronald Reagan at the White House. The Wagners did not live inMariposa County, indeed, lived far away in Jackson County,unfettered by corruption, yet they saw fit to take it upon themselves to writefor help. That emotionally gripping letter was headed, "Restoring EqualRights to the Citizens of Mariposa County." It read as follows:
"Dear President Reagan: I am writing to you not only as the wifeof an attorney, but as a citizen of the United States. My initial concern isthat you personally receive this letter and enclosures, as many residents ofMariposa County have literally placed their lives, and the livesof their families in jeopardy by coming forth to expose the local governmentcorruption detailed herein.I understand that your time is at a premium, however,your immediate attention regarding these matters is of the utmost importance,and respectfully requested.
"In August, 1987, our office was approached by several exdeputies andindividuals from Mariposa County requesting assistance inredressing unlawful and corrupt activities by officials and departments withintheir local government, and failure on the part of the State Attorney GeneralJohn Van De Kamp, the Office of the Attorney General, and our Federal agencies,to investigate these alleged activities.
"What we found through our initial investigations and accumulation ofevidence into these allegations was appalling. It took us time to realize thatin fact, the Constitution of the United States had been suspended in thiscounty.
"The organization, Decency in Government [D.I.G.], was formed, and onNovember 20, 1987, the first multimillion dollar Civil Rights suit was filed inFresno. We felt media coverage would lay a solid ground of personal safety forother complaintants to come forth. This coverage proved to be successful, andon February 11, 1988, the second Civil Rights suit was filed, along with thefiling of a Writ of Mandamus in Sacramento.
"I have enclosed copies of these suits, including several newspaperarticles regarding the situation. Since 1979, many residents, includingindividuals, sheriff's deputies, groups, organizations, members of Grand Juriesand Grand Juries have taken their complaints to the Office of the AttorneyGeneral, State Attorney General John Van De Kamp and Federal authorities forinvestigation.
"These agencies have continuously and blatantly failed to redress thegrievances of these citizens. What appears to be a consistent procedure of oneArnold O. Overoye, of the State Attorney General's Office, is to refer thecomplaints directly back to the local agencies to whom the complaints were made.
"Over the years, this has perpetrated threats, intimidation and fear bythese local officials to the complaining individuals. There has also beenquestions regarding the disappearance of citizens possessing incriminatingevidence, and the incompletion or failure to investigate `homicides' and`suicides'.
"Further, it has recently come to our attention, that Mr. Overoye's`procedure,' and the inaction of State Attorney John Van De Camp and Federalagencies is not limited to Mariposa County, but in fact, expandsto a number of foothill countieswho are experiencing the same types of local corruption.
"The grievances of these citizens, as you will note in paragraph IV of theWRIT are: (1) Violation of Individual Civil Rights (2) Abuse of discretion inthe prosecution of criminal complaints (3) Intentional obstruction of the duecourse of Justice (4) Malicious prosecution (5) Bribery (6) Intimidation ofGrand Jury members and witnesses (7) The deprivation of property (8) Illegaland unlawful land transaction (9) The failure to arrest and prosecute thoseinvolved in illegal drug sales, including individuals employed by the County ofMariposa (10) Violation of Property Rights (11) Conspiracyto impede and obstruct criminal investigations (12) Homicide (13) Attemptedhomicide (14) Rape (15) Battery (16) Perjury.
"Why Mr. President, are we bound to the laws of this country, and ourofficials are not? Life in Mariposa is as if the citizens werebeing held in detention, and the local agencies, the criminals, were running thecounty.
"Needless to say, residents feel it is a way of life to literally armthemselves and their homes against their government! I have been in thesepeople's homes, and have witnessed the arsenal of weapons they feel they mustpossess to protect themselves and their families.
"My husband must travel in, around and out of this county [Mariposa]with an armed escort. He is transported during `the midnight hours' tointerview Plaintiffs and witnesses.
"I ask you, Mr. President, what country are we living in? We shouldcertainly make sure that our backyard is clean before we boast to the Sovietsregarding the Civil Rights of Americans.
"On January 19, 1988, my husband took two witnesses, Kay Ritter, a formerMariposa Grand Jury Forewoman and Robert Ashmore, an exdeputy, toMr. [George] Vinson, the Regional Director of the FBI in Fresno. The testimony,both oral and documentary, took approximately 3 hours to present. To this date,the FBI has failed to redress the grievances of these complaintants, and Mr.Vinson did not even have the courtesy to return my husband's phone calls. Itcame to our understanding, through a reliable source, that Mr. Vinson felt thecomplaints had `no substance.'
"Mr. President, my husband has been a trial attorney for 14 years. Hecertainly wouldn't waste his time or expertise, or the time of these witnesses,if he felt there was `no substance' to the contents of their testimony.However,this attitude by Attorney General Van De Camp, his office, and Federal agenciesis typical and consistent.
"Shortly after this incident, a major drug dealer contacted our officewith valuable information detailing the sale of illegal drugs to countyofficials, and wanted information regarding the Federal Witness Program. Mr. Vinson, knowing this by telephone messages, again failed to return myhusband's inquiries.
"There is evidence by another credible witness, who was informed by theFBI, that should they get involved now, it would be `bad publicity,' and `theyhave let the problems in Mariposa get too far out of hand.'
"You may wonder why my husband and I became dedicated to the citizens ofthis county. We certainly don't foresee large amounts of money at the end ofthis case. Our investment in time and expenditures exceeds $40,000 to date.Whatwe do see are people, just like you and I, who have been suppressed by their own`elected ' officials, with no help or assistance from Attorney General Van DeKamp, his office, or Federal agencies. If someone doesn't help them, they willcontinue to live under these conditions, which I could never imagine would existin America.
"My husband is not a righteous individual, nor is he perfect. None of usare you know. He also doesn't believe that he can solve the problems of theworld. However, being an attorney, he is an officer of the Court, and he feelsa professional obligation to uphold the laws of the State, and to maintain thefreedom of the citizens of this country.
"This is, however, more than I can say about a number of `representatives'and officials, who have failed to perform their appointed duties of theiroffice, and are paid by the taxpayers.Through my involvement in this case, Ihave found, to my repulsion, that my lifelong conception of our government'srepresentation of the `people,' its vested authority and ability to uphold CivilRights, and its duty to maintain the laws and the Constitution, has been only anshattering illusion.
"Our system has failed, Mr. President. And by its failure, has crushed anddestroyed the lives of many innocent, lawabiding people. Why? There is ananswer. And we will utilize every legal avenue to find it. We will not bediscouraged, or give up in our effort to restore the Constitution of the UnitedStates in Mariposa County, and other foothill communities. Wewill continue until the answer is found. Even if it means presenting theproblem to you, Mr. President, on the steps of the White House.
"Our best regards to Mrs. Reagan. Respectfully yours, Vivian L. Wagner."
******
Shortly before Ben Wagner's first scheduled appearance in U.S. District Court inFresno on behalf of D.I.G. (Decency in Government), Wagner received an obscureresponse from "Chuck" at the Reagan White House. Wagnerexcitedly called Kay Ritter and Dave Beavers, myself and a fewothers to note that a meeting with "Chuck" was scheduled that week. It was to be a somewhat secret meeting as requested by the White House.
However, the day after meeting with "Chuck," Wagner unplugged hisphone and walked out on his law practice and his home in Jackson, California,taking nothing with him except his clothes and his wife, never to be seen again.I was later told that Jerry Goldberg of Capitol News Service did the same, onthe same day, and I was never able to locate either of them again.
CHAPTER 3
The last remnants of the D.I.G. group were beginning to call themselves "TheLoser's Club," resembling forlorn characters out of a Stephen King novel. They had squared off against a labyrnthine evil so incomprehensible, they didn'tknow what they were fighting. It was time to bring in some outside help.
During a strategy meeting in Jackson, California, Ben Wagner had received animpressive 700 page report commissioned by the Tulare City Council. The report,compiled by Ted Gunderson, a former Los Angeles FBI agent, was indepth andstraightforward about deputies receiving payoffs and distributing drugs in thesmall farmtown of Tulare. Wagner had given me a copy for my files.
On an impulse, I picked up the phone and called Gunderson's telephone numberlisted at the top of the attached resume. The resume was impressive. He'dworked as SAC (Senior Special Agent in Charge) at Los Angeles FBI headquarters,Washington D.C. headquarters and in Dallas, Texas. It would be two years beforeI would grasp the significance of the Dallas connection. After retiring fromthe FBI, he'd worked for F. Lee Baily, Esq., then formed his own investigativeagency in Los Angeles county.
I left a message with the answering service and he returned the call a few dayslater. His voice was open, attentive, devoid of the bureaucratic hollowness Ihad come to expect from FBI agents. We talked briefly, mostly about the problemDIG was experiencing in Mariposa. I said I needed help,anticipating his next question. But none came forth. Instead, a clippedknowingness entered his tone, as if nothing more should be said on the phone. He agreed to meet with me at his home a few weeks later and we hung up.
Unknown to me at the time, I had taken a quantum leap in the direction of theOctopus when I contacted Ted Gunderson. The mystery of the Mariposacoverups would soon be divulged through an associate of his, a former member of"The Company" in nearby Fresno, California.
******
On November 30, 1991, Ted Gunderson opened the door at his Manhattan Beach homeand ushered us into a small living room cluttered with toys. He made noexplanation for the toys scattered around the floor and the couch, but offeredcoffee and donuts, then proceeded to eat most of the donuts himself. I hadexpected someone dripping with intrigue, instead he was classic in the sense ofan investigator; rumpled shirt and slacks, nervous movements, distractedbehavior. We sat on the couch bunched together amongst the toys. Gundersonpulled a kitchen chair up in front of us, leaned over and began stuffing hismouth with cheese and crackers, all the while talking, his body in perpetualmotion. He was a big, handsome man with an aging face and tossled silver hair. He seemed entirely unaware of his appearance or the appearnce of his home, buthis pale eyes were intelligent and probing. Intuitively, I knew he was morethan he appeared to be.
A young woman, perhaps early thirties, entered the room brushing long blondhair, still wet from the shower. Her faded jeans and sundrenched appearancereminded me of friends I'd known growing up in Newport Beach. Gundersonintroduced her as his "partner," as she seated herself silently on thefloor next to him. The flush on her face brought a fleeting prescience to methat they had been making love shortly before the meeting.
Ray Jenkins recounted the Mariposa story forseveral hours, with the rest of us digressing to insert a fact here or there. The investigation had led beyond Mariposa into MCA Corporation, and variousState and Federal levels of government. I noted that Danny Casolaro'sresearch had started at the eastern end, in Washington D.C., yet he had beenpreparing to travel to California for the rest of the story,before his death three months earlier.
Gunderson listened carefully, occasionally interrupting to ask questions, thenmotioned us to follow him to the backyard. There we stood in a circle in themiddle of his yard while he surveyed the area. Satisfied that he was not beingwatched, he agreed to come to Mariposa, with media, and perform acitizens arrest on the corrupt officials. He pulled a frazzled piece of paperfrom his pocket and gave me a list of telephone numbers to write down. Theywere numbers to telephone booths at various locations in the vicinity of hishome. Each booth had been coded 1,2,3,4, or 5. He instructed that the nexttime I called him, he would give me the code number of the booth and a time tocall. I would then call him at the designated booth.
Eight hours later, I handed him a copy of my first book, as a courtesy, thenleft Manhattan Beach loaded with newspaper clippings and documents, mostlyrelating to Casolaro's investigation of the Octopus. One packetwas titled, "The Wonderful Weapons of Wackenhut," others related tothe Inslaw affair, Iran/Contra and various savings and loan scandals.
In the van, reviewing the documents, I wondered what relationship they had toMariposa County and why I was given the packet. The documentswere far ranging, beyond anything I had heretofore imagined. But within days ofmy visit to Gunderson, I would be introduced to the Octopus.
******
The following morning, at 7:30 a.m., I received a collect call from a man whoidentified himself as Michael Riconosciuto (pronouncedRiconoshooto). Riconosciuto, calling from the Pierce County jail in Tacoma,Washington, said he had been informed by Gunderson that I was investigating acorruption/drug ring in Mariposa County. For 45 minutesRiconosciuto related the names of those in charge of methamphetamine operationsin Mariposa, Madera and Fresno counties.
A ton of methamphetamine had been seized in the area of my investigations,according to Riconosciuto. Richard Knozzi was a highlevel "cooker" and Jim DeSilva, Ben Kalka, and others were mediumlevel distributors or lieutenants. Kalka was currently serving time in aPleasanton prison; 900 pounds of methamphetamine had been seized under hiscontrol.
"Who's behind this ring?" I asked. Riconosciutopaused for a moment, then took a deep breath. "It's The Company. Armsget shipped to the Contras, the Afghanistan rebels [Mujahaden], the Middle East. You know, to fight the Soviet influence. But the Contras and theMujahaden don't have money to pay for arms, so they pay with drugs, cocaine orheroin. The Company handles the drug end of it in the U.S ..."
"What's The Company ...?," I asked. Riconosciutointerrupted, "Wait a minute. It's a long story. You have to start at thebeginning." Concerned that Riconosciuto might have to hang up, Ihurriedly pushed for answers. "Arms for drugs, do you have proof?"
"Oh, yeah. It's a selfsupporting system, they don't have to go throughCongress ..."
"Michael," I pressed, "who ships the arms?" Riconosciutoquieted for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "Let's start with Wackenhut. I didn't play ball with Wackenhut so they poisoned the well for me. I'm injail because I worked for Wackenhut. The government has put together a verysimple drug case against me ... as if that's what I'm about, just a druggie."
"Tell me about Wackenhut."
"It's a security corporation headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida. Wackenhut provides security for the Nevada nuclear test site, the Alaskanpipeline, Lawrence Livermore Labs, you know, all the high security governmentfacilities in the U.S. They have about fifty thousand armed security guardsthat work for minimum wage or slightly above.
"On the other hand, on the Wackenhut board of directors, they have all theformer heads of every government agency there ever was under Ronald Reagan andGeorge Bush; FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service, etc.
"You know, they've got retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former CIAdirector; Clarence Kelley, former FBI director; Frank Carlucci, former CIAdeputy director; James Rowley, former Secret Service director; Admiral BobbyRay Inman, former acting chairman of President Bush's foreign intelligenceadvisory board and former CIA deputy director. Before his appointment asReagan's CIA director, the late William Casey was Wackenhut's outside legalcounsel ..."
I interrupted him, wanting to know where HE fit into the picture?
"Well, I served as Director of Research for the Wackenhut facility at theCabazon Indian reservation in Indio, California. In 198384 I modified thePROMISE computer software to be used in law enforcement and intelligenceagencies worldwide. A man named Earl Brian was spearheading a plan forworldwide use of the software, but essentially, the modified software was beingpirated from the owners, Bill and Nancy Hamilton."
I asked, "So how did that cause your arrest?" Michael was articulate,but his story was becoming complicated. He continued. "I signed anaffidavit for the Hamiltons stating that I had been responsible for themodification. The House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw was investigating thetheft of the software and I was afraid I would be implicated since I hadperformed the modification. Nine days later, in an attempt to discredit mytestimony, I was arrested for allegedly operating a drug lab."
I didn't want to push Riconosciuto on the subject of a druglab at that point, but voiced my foremost concern. "Will the HouseJudiciary Committee be bringing you in to testify?"
"Eventually, yes."
"Are you in any danger where you are right now?" I was unaware at thetime that Riconosciuto had been recruited at StanfordUniversity into the CIA nearly twenty years earlier, and danger was amatter of fact in his life.
"Oh, you bet! Several of the jail guards here moonlight for Wackenhut herein Tacoma." Riconosciuto went on to discuss theWackenhut setup. "Basically, what you have is a group of politically wellconnected people through Wackenhut who wanted to get juicy defense contractswhen Ronald Reagan got elected president. And they did! They also preyed onhigh tech start up companies, many of them out of Silicon Valley in California.
"They saw technology that they wanted and they either forced the companiesinto bankruptcy or waited on the sidelines, like vultures, and picked them upfor pennies after they were bankrupt."
I made profuse notes as Riconosciuto spoke, not knowing wherehe was leading, but assuming his narrative would eventually intersect with myinvestigation of government sanctioneddrug operations. Finally it did. According to Riconosciuto,Wackenhut Corporation "made inroads" into the methamphetamineoperation. A man named Richard Knozzi allegedly headed major governmentsanctioned meth laboratories in Fresno, Madera and Mariposacounties. A man named Al Holbert, a former Israeli intelligenceofficer with U.S. citizenship, was the liaison or connection between theKnozzi operation and the U.S. government.
In subsequent documents obtained from Michael's secret hiding place in theCalifornia desert, I located documents which indicated Michael had first beenrecruited into the CIA by Al Holbert. However, during this first ofmany phone conversations with Riconosciuto, I found myselfsearching for a beginning, something concrete to get a foothold. "Michael,is there any proof that you worked at Wackenhut?"
Michael responded diffidently. "CNN recently ran a piece, and they filmeda location shot from the parking lot of the casino. Then they aired anotherlocation shot on the [Cabazon] reservation of just an expanse of bare land, bluesky, sand and sagebrush. Then the narrator says, `Here on the Indian reservationis where Michael Riconosciuto claims to have modified thePROMISE software.' They didn't show the tribal office complex, they didn't showthe industrial park. They showed a bare expanse of land, like I had a computerout in a teepee in the middle of the desert! The government is doing a characterassassination on me. I'm fair game now that I'm in jail, because I've raisedtoo many provocative questions, you know, and they're trying to relegate me tothe area of delusion ..."
******
For three months Riconosciuto called daily from the PierceCounty jail in Tacoma, Washington. At his request, I attached a tape recorder tomy phone and unraveled a complicated web of illegal overseas arms shipments,espionage, CIA drug trafficking, biological warfare development,computer software theft, money laundering and corruption at the highest levelsof government.
Throughout this time span, I also obtained every newspaper and magazine articleI could lay my hands on relative to Riconosciuto's backgroundand contacts. Riconosciuto had been communicating regularly with journalistDanny Casolaro prior to his death on August 10, 1991 when Danny'snude body was found in the bathtub of room 517 of the Sheraton Hotel inMartinsburg, West Virginia. His wrists had been slashed ten or twelve times. No papers were found in his hotel room or in his car, though he was known tocart a briefcase and files everywhere he went. An XActo blade found in thebathtub was not sold locally and his briefcase is still missing to thisday.Casolaro was working on a book entitled, "Behold a Pale Horse,"which encompassed the October Surprise story, the Inslaw computer software case,the Iran/Contra affair, the B.C.C.I. scandal, and M.C.A. entertainmentcorporation, all overlapping and interconnecting into one network which hedubbed, "The Octopus."
He told friends that he "had traced the Inslaw and related stories back toa dirty CIA `Old Boy' network" that hadbegun working together in the 1950's around the Albania covert operations. Thesemen had gotten into the illegal gun and drug trade back then and hadcontinued in that business ever since.
Before his death, Danny had made plans to visit the Wackenhut Corporation inIndio, California, and even considered naming his book, "Indio."
CHAPTER 4
The history of Wackenhut Corporation is best described from its own literature. An outdated letter of introduction typed on Wackenhut letterhead once sent toprospective clients provided me with the following profile: (Excerpted) "WackenhutCorporation had its beginnings in 1954, when George R. Wackenhut and three otherformer Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation formed a company inMiami, Special Agent Investigators, to provide investigative services tobusiness and industry.
"The approach was so well received that a second company was formed in 1955to apply the same philosophy to physical security problems. In 1958 thecompanies were combined under the name of Wackenhut Corporation, a Floridacompany. From the outset, George Wackenhut was President and chief executiveofficer of the enterprise. Wackenhut established its headquarters in CoralGables, Florida in 1960, extending its physical security operations to theUnited States government through formation of a whollyowned subsidiary,Wackenhut Services, Incorporated. This was done in order to comply with federalstatute prohibiting the government from contracting with companies which furnishinvestigative or detective services.
"In 1962, Wackenhut operations extended from Florida to California andHawaii. On January 1, 1966, the company became international with offices inCaracas, Venezuela, through half ownership of an affiliate.
"The Wackenhut Corporation became public in 1966 with overthecounter stocksales and joined the American Stock Exchange in 1967. Through acquisitions ofsubsidiaries and affiliates, now totaling more than 20, and expansion of itcontracts into numerous territories and foreign countries, the WackenhutCorporation has grown into one of the world's largest security and investigativefirms.
"In 1978 acquisition of NUSAC, a Virginia company providing technical andconsulting services to the nuclear industry, brought Wackenhut into the fieldsof environment and energy management. In 1979, Wackenhut acquired StellarSystems, Inc., a California company specializing in outdoor electronic security.
"The executive makeup of the company reflects the stress Mr. Wackenhutplaced on professional leadership. The Wackenhut Corporation is guided byexecutives and managers with extensive backgrounds in the FBI and othermilitary, governmental and private security and investigative fields.
"The principle business of the company is furnishing security and completeinvestigative services and systems to business, industry and professionalclients, and to various agencies of the U.S. Government.
"Through a whollyowned subsidiary, Wackenhut Electronic SystemsCorporation, the company develops and produces sophisticated computerizedsecurity systems to complement its guard services.
"Major clients of Wackenhut's investigative services are the insuranceindustry and financial interests. These services include insurance inspections,corporate acquisition surveys, personnel background reports, preemploymentscreening, polygraph examinations and general criminal, fraud and arsoninvestigations.
"The wide variety of services offered by Wackenhut Corporation alsoincludes guard and electronic security for banks, office buildings, apartments,industrial complexes and other physical structures; training programs in Englishand foreign languages to apply Wackenhut procedures to individual clients needs;fire, safety and protective patrols; rescue and first aid services; emergencysupport programs tailored to labormanagement disputes, and predeparturescreening programs widely used by airports and airlines.
"The company now has some 20,000 employees and maintains close to 100offices and facilities with operations spread across the United States andextending into Canada, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, the Middle East,Indonesia, Central and South America and the Caribbean."
******
On the surface, Wackenhut Corporation seemed innocous enough, but throughdocuments later obtained from Michael Riconosciuto, I learnedthere was another, darker side to Wackenhut operations, at the Cabazon Indianreservation near Indio, California.
Because Indian reservations are sovereign nations and do not come under federaljurisdiction, Wackenhut International had formed a partnership and entered intoa business venture with the Cabazon Indians to produce hightech arms andexplosives for export to thirdworld countries. This maneuver was designed toevade congressional prohibitions against U.S. weapons being shipped to theContras and middle eastern countries.
In the early 1980's, Dr. John Nichols, the Cabazon tribal administrator,obtained a department of Defense secret facility clearance for the reservationto conduct various research projects. Nichols then approached Wackenhut with anelaborate "joint venture" proposal to manufacture 120mm combustible cartridge cases, 9mm machine pistols, lasersighted assault weapons, sniperrifles and portable rocket systems on the Cabazon reservation and in LatinAmerica. At one point, he even sought to develop biological weapons.
Again, through Michael Riconosciuto's files, I later obtainedinteroffice memorandums and correspondence relating to biological technology,but more on that in chapter 10. Meanwhile, in 1980, Dr. John Nichols obtainedthe blueprints to Crown Prince Fahd's palace in Tiaf, Saudi Arabia, and drafteda plan to provide security for the palace.
The Saudis were interested enough to conduct a background check on the Cabazons. Mohammad Jameel Hashem, consul of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia inWashington, D.C., wrote former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk at hisoffices in Washington D.C. and noted, "According to our black list forcompanies, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians/Cabazon Trading Company andWackenhut International are not included." Translated, that meant thatneither the Cabazons or Wackenhut were Jewishrun enterprises.
George Wackenhut's political leanings were once described in a book entitled, "TheAge of Surveillance, The Aims and Methods of America's Political IntelligenceSystem," by Frank J. Donner (Knopf, 1980), pp. 424425 as such: "Theagency's [Wackenhut] professional concerns reflect the political values of itsdirector, George Wackenhut. A rightist of the old blood, he selected as hisdirectors an assortment of ultras prominent in the John Birch Society,the ASC, and other rightwing groups. The agency's monthly house organ, the`Wackenhut Security Review,' systematically decried the subversive inspirationin virtually all the protest movements of the sixties, from civil rights topeace. This vigilance earned the publication the accolade of rightwingorganizations, inluding (in 1962) the George Washington Honor Medal and theFreedom Foundation Award at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; and (in 1965 and 1966)the Vigilant Patriots Award from the AllAmerican Conference to Combat Communism."
******
Of all the articles written about Wackenhut Corporation, probably the mostprovacative was written by John Connolly for SPY magazine, published inSeptember 1992, pp. 4654. Connolly, a former New York police officer turnedwriter, began his story with the following introduction: "What? A bigprivate company one with a board of former CIA, FBI and Pentagonofficials; one in charge of protecting nuclearweapons facilities, nuclearreactors, the Alaskan oil pipeline and more than a dozen American embassiesabroad; one with longstanding ties to a radical rightwing organization; one with30,000 men and women under arms secretly helped Iraq in its effort toobtain sophisticated weapons? And fueled unrest in Venezuela? This is allthe plot of a new bestselling thriller, right? Or the ravings of someoverheated conspiracy buff, right? Right? WRONG."
Connolly highlighted George Wackenhut as a "hardline rightwinger" whowas able to profit from his beliefs by building dossiers on Americans suspectedof being Communists or leftleaning "subversives and sympathizers" andselling the information to interested parties. By 1965 , Wackenhut was boastingto potential investors that the company maintained files on 2.5 millionsuspected dissidents one in 46 American adults then living.
In 1966, after acquiring the private files of Karl Barslaag, a former staffmember of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities, Wackenhut couldconfidently maintain that with more than 4 million names, it had the largestprivately held file on suspected dissidents in America.
Connolly wrote that it was not possible to overstate the special relationshipthat Wackenhut enjoys with the federal government. Richard Babayan,claiming to be a CIA contract employee, told SPY that "Wackenhuthas been used by the CIA and other intelligence agencies for years. When they[the CIA] need cover, Wackenhut is there to provide it for them."
Another CIA agent, Bruce Berckmans, who was assigned to the CIAstation in Mexico City, but left the agency in January 1975 (putatively) tobecome a Wackenhut internationaloperations vice president, told SPY that hehad seen a formal proposal submitted by George Wackenhut to the CIA offeringWackenhut offices throughout the world as fronts for CIA activities. In 1981, Berckmans joined with other senior Wackenhut executives to form thecompany's Special Projects Division. It was this division that linked upwith exCIA man Dr. John Phillip Nichols, the Cabazon tribal administrator, inpursuit of a scheme to manufacture explosives, poison gas and biological weaponsfor export to the contras and other communist fighting rebels worldwide.
SPY also printed testimony from William Corbett, a terrorism expert who spent 18years as a CIA analyst and is now an ABC News consultant in Europe. Said Corbett, "For years Wackenhut has been involved with the CIA andother intelligence organizations, including the DEA. Wackenhut would allow theCIA to occupy positions within the company [in order to carry out] clandestineoperations."Additionally, Corbett said that Wackenhut supplied intelligenceagencies with information, and it was compensated for this "in a quid proquo arrangement" with government contracts worth billions ofdollars over the years.
On page 51, in a box entitled, "Current and Former Wackenhut Directors,"SPY published the following names: "John Ammarell, former FBI agent;Robert Chasen, former FBI agent; Clarence Kelly, former FBI director; WillisHawkins, former assistant secretary of the Army; Paul X. Kelley, fourstargeneral (ret.), U.S. Marine Corps; Seth McKee, former commander in chief, NorthAmerican Air Defense Command; Bernard Schriever, former member, President'sForeign Intelligence Advisory Board; Frank Carlucci, former Defense Secretaryand former deputy CIA director; Joseph Carroll, formerdirector, Defense Intelligence Agency; James Rawley, former director, U.S.Secret Service; Bobby Ray Inman, former deputy CIA director."
CHAPTER 5
Danny Casolaro's body was found at 12:30 p.m. in a bloodfilledbath tub by a hotel maid who called the Martinsburg police. The body containedthree deep cuts on the right wrist and seven on the left wrist, made by a singleedge razor blade, the kind used to scrape windows or open packages.At the bottomof the bathwater was an empty Milwaukee beer can, a paper glass coaster, therazor blade and two white plastic trash bags, the kind used in wastepaperbaskets.On the desk in the hotel room was an empty mead composition notebookwith one page torn out and a suicide note which read: "To those who I lovethe most, please forgive me for the worst possible thing I could have done. Most of all, I'm sorry to my son. I know deep down inside that God will let mein."
There were no other papers, folders, documents of any sort, nor any briefcasefound in the room. Danny's wallet was intact, stuffed with credit cards.Thebody was removed from the tub by Lieutenant Dave Brining from the Martinsburgfire department, and his wife, Sandra, a nurse who works in the hospitalemergency room. The couple, who often moonlighted as coroners, took the body tothe Brown Funeral Home where they conducted an examination.Charles Brown thendecided to embalm the body that night and go home, rather than come back to workthe next day, Sunday.
No one in Danny Casolaro's family had been notified of his deathat that time, nor had they requested the body be embalmed.When Casolaro's familylearned of the death, they insisted it was not a suicide and called for anautopsy and an investigation. Though the body had already been embalmed, anautopsy was performed at the West Virginia University Hospital by a Dr. Frost. The findings indicated that no struggle had taken place because there were norecent bruises on the body. The drugs found in Casolaro's urine, blood andtissue samples were in minute amounts but they were also unexplainable by hisbrother, Tony, who is a medical doctor.
According to Tony Casolaro, Danny did not take drugs or have anyprescriptions for the drug traces of Hydrocodone and Tricyclic antidepressantthat were found in the body. No pill boxes or written prescriptions were found. Dr. Casolaro searched through his brother's Blue Cross records and found norecord of the prescriptions or doctor visits.
During the autopsy of the body, Dr. Frost had found lesions within the brainwhich were characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis. It was possible that Danny washaving blurring of vision, but Dr. Frost downplayed the possibility that thiscontributed to any suicide. Of particular interest, was Frost's observationthat the deep razor wounds on Danny's wrists were inflicted "without anyhesitation marks." However, the lack of hesitation did not indicate oneway or the other whether they were or were not selfinflicted.Investigators andpolice never found Danny's missing briefcase.
On August 6, 1991, Casolaro's housekeeper, Olga, helped Dannypack a black leather tote bag. She remembered he also packed a thick sheaf ofpapers into a dark brown or black briefcase. She asked him what he had put intothe briefcase and he replied, "I have all my papers ..." He had beentyping for two days, and as he left the house, he said, "Wish me luck. I'll see you in a couple of days."
By August 9th, Casolaro's friends were alarmed. Noone had heardfrom him and Olga was receiving threatening phone calls at Danny's home. OnSaturday, August 10th, Olga received another call, a man's voice said, "Youson of a bitch. You're dead."After learning of Danny's death, Olgarecalled seeing Danny sitting in the kitchen on August 5th with a "heavyman ... wearing a dark suit. He was a dark man with black hair he turnedtowards the door, I saw he was darkskinned. I told police maybe he could befrom India."
At 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the day before Danny's death, Bill Turner, a friend andconfidante, met Danny in the parking lot of the Sheraton Hotel to deliver somepapers to him. The papers allegedly consisted of two sealed packages whichTurner had been keeping in his safe at home for Danny, and a packet of HughesAircraft papers which belonged to Turner.
Danny had appeard exhuberant to most of his friends before his death, notingthat he was about to "wrap up" his investigation of The Octopus. Casolaro was trying to prove that the alleged theft of the Inslawcomputer program, PROMISE, was related to the October Surprise scandal, theIranContra affair and the collapse of BCCI (Bank of Credit and CommerceInternational).
Turner later admitted to police that he had indeed met with Danny on August 9th,but at that time he refused to specify what time and would not describe what wasin the papers he delivered to Danny. I later learned that Turner had beeninvestigating discrepancies involving his former employer, Hughes AircraftCompany. The documents he had delivered from his safe to Danny had been sealed,with Casolaro's name written across the seal, and he claimed notto have known what they contained.Nevertheless, it is feasible to assume thatTurner may have known who Danny was preparing to meet that evening at theMartinsburg Hotel because, for reasons of his own, Turner apparently wantedDanny to show the Hughes Aircraft documents to whoever he was meeting with.
Turner later noted to reporters that he was "scared shitless" aboutinformation he had seen connecting Ollie North and BCCI. "I saw papersfrom Danny that connected back through the Keating Five and Silverado [thefailed Denver S & L where Neil Bush had been an officer]," he said.
To his friend, Ben Mason, Danny showed a 22point outline for his book. Includedin the information he shared with Mason were papers referring to IranContra armsdeals. Photocopies of checks made out for $1 million and $4 million drawn onBCCI accounts held for Adnan Khashoggi, and international arms merchant andfactotum for the House of Saud, and by Manucher Ghorbanifar, an arms dealer andIranContra middleman, were presented.
"The last sheet," noted Mason, "was a passport of some guy namedIbrahim." Casolaro had emphasized that Ibrahim had made abig deal of showing him (Casolaro) his "Egyptian" passport."Ibrahim"was obviously the informant whom Olga, Casolaro's housekeeper, had seen sittingin the kitchen with Danny on August 5th. Hassan Ali Ibrahim Ali, born in1928, was later identified as the manager of Sitico, an alleged Iraqi frontcompany for arms purchases. Casolaro had obtained these papers from Bob Bickel,who in turn obtained them from October Surprise source Richard Brenneke.
Ari BenMenasche, a self proclaimed Israeli military intelligence officer, wasresponsible for the tipoff to an obscure Lebanese magazine about what laterbecame known as the IranContra scandal. After Casolaro'sdeath, Menasche called Bill Hamilton, the president of Inslaw Company andcreator of the PROMISE software. (Hamilton had been in daily contact withCasolaro until about a week prior to his death).
Menasche claimed that two FBI agents from Lexington, Kentucky, had embarkedon a trip to Martinsburg to meet Casolaro as part oftheir investigation of the sale of the PROMISE software to Israel and otherintelligence agencies.Ben Menasche told Hamilton that one of the FBI agents,E.B. Cartinhour, was disaffected because his superiors had refused to indicthigh Reagan officials for their role in the October Surprise. Ben Menascheclaimed the agents were prepared to give Casolaro proof that the FBI wasillegally using PROMISE software.
It is highly unlikely that the two FBI agents were enroute to Martinsburg toGIVE anything to Casolaro, but they may well have been on theirway to obtain HIS documents and those belonging to Bill Turner. If, in fact,Danny had disclosed to any one of the many "sources" he had developedduring his investigation, that he was turning over his documents to theLexington FBI, that may well have alarmed a few of them.
Casolaro was also investigating Colonel Bo Gritz's expose of CIAdrug trafficking, and had requested to meet with a former police officer who hadinformation on Laotian warlord Kuhn Sa's Golden Triangle drug trade proposal tothe U.S. He had learned through a Sacramento Bee newspaper article, dated June2, 1990 that Patrick Moriarty, the Red Devil fireworks magnate convictedof laundering political contributions and bribing city officials in Sacramento,had been subpoenaed to testify on behalf of Gritz at his trial in Las Vegaswhere he was tried for using a false passport. Gritz was acquitted of thecharges.
Moriarty's lawyer, Jan Lawrence Handzlik, told the Bee that Moriarty hadpaid Gritz to make business trips to China, Singapore and other parts of Asia. Gritz said his business trip to Asia in July 1989 was for the purpose ofnegotiating an oil interest that he and Moriarty had set up between the People'sRepublic of China and Indonesia.
It is noteworthy that Patrick Moriarty is the longtime (30 years) partnerof Marshall Riconosciuto, Michael Riconosciuto'sfather. They owned several California businesses together, two of whichwere Hercules Research Corporation, of which Michael was a partner, andPyrotronics Corporation.
******
Casolaro at one time considered the title of "Indio"for the book he was writing about "The Octopus." His death occurredjust days before he planned to visit the Cabazon Indian reservation near Indio,California. Though his notes did not divulge what role the Cabazons may havehad in the conspiracy,Casolaro listed Dr. John Phillip Nichols, the Cabazon administrator, as aformer CIA agent.
A source of information which Danny may have read is entitled, "DARKVICTORY, Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob," by Dan E. Moldea. Moldea namedthis unholy alliance "The Octopus" in his book.
Numerous publications reporting on Casolaro's death corroboratedthat one of his sources included Michael Riconosciuto, a "44yearoldformer hightech scientist who had connections with Wackenhut Corporation ..." What brought Casolaro to Riconosciuto was an affidavit signed by Riconosciutoclaiming that when he worked on the WackenhutCabazon project, he was given acopy of the Inslaw software by Earl Brian for modification. Riconosciuto alsoswore that Peter Videnieks, a Justice Department official associated with theInslaw contract, had visited the WackenhutCabazon project with Earl Brian.
Earl Brian was a businessman and Edwin Meese crony who served in Governor RonaldReagan's cabinet in California.The $6 million in software stolen from Williamand Nancy Hamilton, coowners of Inslaw Company, was allegedly sold by theJustice Department through Earl Brian to raise offthebooks money for covertgovernment operations.
On May 18, 1990, Riconosciuto had called the Hamiltons andinformed them that the Inslaw case was connected to the October Surprise affair. Riconosciuto claimed that he and Earl Brian had traveled to Iran in 1980 andpaid $40 million to Iranian officials to persuade them NOT to release thehostages before the presidential election in which Reagan became president ofthe United States.
Riconosciuto's information created a domino effect inWashington D.C., opening numerous investigations and causing a media blitz. Atthat time, Casolaro headed the Hamilton's private investigationof the theft of their software and he had regular communication withRiconosciuto.
Former U.S. Attorney General Elliott Richardson, the Hamilton's attorney,subsequently sent Riconosciuto an affidavit to sign, to befiled by Inslaw in federal court in connection with Inslaw's pending Motion forLimited Discovery. The affidavit, Case No. 8500070, entered into court records,resulted in Riconosciuto's arrest within days. It read as follows:
"I Michael J. Riconosciuto, being duly sworn, do herebystate as follows:
"(1) During the early 1980's, I served as the Director of Research for ajoint venture between the Wackenhut Corporation of Coral Gables, Florida, andthe Cabazon Band of Indians of Indio, California. The joint venture was locatedon the Cabazon reservation.
"(2) The WackenhutCabazon joint venture sought to develop and/ormanufacture certain materials that are used in military and national securityoperations, including night vision goggles, machine guns, fuelairexplosives, and biological and chemical warfare weapons.
"(3) The Cabazon Band of Indians are a sovereign nation. The sovereignimmunity that is accorded the Cabazons as a consequence of this fact made itfeasible to pursue on the reservation the development and/or manufacture ofmaterials whose development or manufacture would be subject to stringentcontrols off the reservation. As a minority group, the Cabazon Indians alsoprovided the Wackenhut Corporation with an enhanced ability to obtain federalcontracts through the 8A Set Aside Program, and in connection withGovernmentowned contractoroperated (GOCO) facilities.
"(4) The WackenhutCabazon joint venture was intended to support the needsof a number of foreign governments and forces, including forces and governmentsin Central America and the Middle East. The Contras in Nicaragua representedone of the most important priorities for the joint venture.
"(5) The WackenhutCabazon joint venture maintained close liaison withcertain elements of the United States Government, including representatives ofintelligence, military and law enforcement agencies.
"(6) Among the frequent visitors to the WackenhutCabazon joint venturewere Peter Videnieks of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., anda close associate of Videnieks by the name of Earl W. Brian. Brian is a privatebusinessman who lives in Maryland and who has maintained close ties with theU.S. intelligence community for many years.
"(7) In connection with my work for Wackenhut, I engaged in some softwaredevelopment and modification work in 1983 and 1984 on the proprietary PROMIScomputer software product. The copy of PROMIS on which I worked came from theU.S. Department of Justice. Earl W. Brian made it available to me throughWackenhut after acquiring it from Peter Videnieks, who was then a Department ofJustice contracting official with responsibility for the PROMISE software. Iperformed the modifications to PROMIS in Indio, California; Silver Spring,Maryland; and Miami, Florida.
"(8) The purpose of the PROMISE software modifications that I made in 1983and 1984 was to support a plan for the implementation of PROMIS in lawenforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide. Earl W. Brian was spearheadingthe plan for this worldwide use of the PROMISE computer software.
"(9) Some of the modifications that I made were specifically designed tofacilitate the implementation of PROMIS within two agencies of the Government ofCanada; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security andIntelligence Service (CSIS). Earl W. Brian would check with me from time totime to make certain that the work would be completed in time to satisfy theschedule for the RCMP and CSIS implementations of PROMIS.
"(10) The proprietary version of PROMIS, as modified by me, was, in fact,implemented in both the RCMP and the CSIS in Canada. It was my understandingthat Earl W. Brian had sold this version of PROMIS to the Government of Canada.
"(11) In February 1991, I had a telephone conversation with PeterVidenieks, then still employed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Videnicksattempted during this telephone conversation to persuade me not to cooperatewith an independent investigation of the government's piracy of Inslaw'sproprietary PROMIS software being conducted by the Committee on the Judiciary ofthe U.S. House of Representatives.
"(12) Videnieks stated that I would be rewarded for a decision not tocooperate with the House Judiciary Committee investigation. Videnieksforecasted an immediate and favorable resolution of a protracted child custodydispute being prosecuted against my wife by her former husband, if I were todecide not to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee investigation.
"(13) Videnieks also outlined specific punishments that I could expect toreceive from the U.S. Department of Justice if I cooperate with the HouseJudiciary Committee's investigation.
"(14) One punishment that Videnieks outlined was the future inclusion ofme and my father in a criminal prosecution of certain business associates ofmine in Orange County, California, in connection with the operation of a savingsand loan institution in Orange County. By way of underscoring his power toinfluence such decisions at the U.S. Department of Justice, Videnieks informedme of the indictment of these business associates prior to the time when thatindictment was unsealed and made public.
"(15) Another punishment that Videnieks threatened against me if Icooperate with the House Judiciary Committee is prosecution by the U.S.Department of Justice for perjury. Videnieks warned me that credible witnesseswould come forward to contradict any damaging claims that I made in testimonybefore the House Judiciary Committee, and that I would subsequently beprosecuted for perjury by the U.S. Department of Justice for my testimony beforethe House Judiciary Committee."
It is noteworthy that in January, 1992 when I obtained boxes of MichaelRiconosciuto's hidden documents, included in those documentswere handwritten pages of telephone numbers belonging to various Washington D.C.dignitaries. One number, "(202) 4260789" was listed as belonging to "PV,"but it was no longer in service.
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Danny Casolaro was, of course, intent on interviewing PeterVidenieks. A strange coincidence occurred during the week prior to his death. While sitting in a pub, having a beer, a man named Joseph Cuellar approached himand they began talking. At some point during the conversation, Danny disclosedthe contents of his investigation and expressed a desire to interview PeterVidenieks.
To Danny's astonishment, Cuellar, claiming to be a Special Forces operative,said he could arrange a rendevous between Peter Videnieks and Casolaro.Cuellar's connection to Peter Videnieks allegedly came through Videnieks' wife,Barbara, who was the executive assistant to the powerful West VirginiaDemocratic Senator, Robert Byrd. Byrd played a major role in the effortto have the CIA move some of its administrative offices toCharlestown, 20 miles from Martinsburg, on the Virginia border. It wasapparently through Barbara Videnieks that Cuellar intended to arrange theinterview.
Casolaro confided to friends that he was unnerved by thissupposedly chance meeting. He met with Cuellar at other times that week, but itis unknown whether he ever spoke with Videnieks. To date, that question remainsunanswered.
Significantly, Elliot Richardson, the respected former U.S. Attorney Generalrepresenting Inslaw, called for the appointment of a special counsel to lookinto the death of Casolaro.
CHAPTER 6
At Michael Riconosciuto's trial in Tacoma Washington, PeterVidenieks testified that while working for the Justice Department he had contactwith the PROMISE software. He "conducted the competitive contract competitive procurement for acquisition of the services to implement PROMISE."Undercross examination he testified that "it required preparation of a requestfor proposals issuance of that document to industry ... negotiating, selecting,and awarding the contract. Then after award, administering the contract to seethat the work that the government paid for was properly performed."
So, essentially, Videnieks administered the Inslaw contract with the government. His employment record included work with the Internal Revenue Service as arevenue officer from 1964 to 1967. From 1967 to 1972 as a contract specialistwith NASA. From 1972 to 1973 with Customs as a contract specialist. From 1973 through 1975 back at NASA as a contract specialist. From 1975 through1981 as a contract specialist with Customs, supervisory at this time. From 1981through September, 1990, with the Department of Justice as a contractspecialist. And from September 1990 through present (January 1992) as asupervisory contract specialist at Customs again.
Thomas Olmstead, Riconosciuto's attorney, showed Videnieksthe Inslaw affidavit signed by Riconosciuto. Videnieks said he had seen theaffidavit prior to court, but testified that he'd never heard of theWackenhutCabazon joint venture and never visited the WackenhutCabazon facilityin Indio, California. He also testified that he'd never met Earl Brian.
Olmstead asked Videnieks if he knew Robert Chasen [Executive Vice Presidentof Wackenhut]? Videnieks testified that he knew him "by name since hewas head of Customs for about a threeyear period, from about 1977 through 1980. I met him once in the line of my duties."
Interestingly, according to his resume, Robert Chasen was Commissioner ofCustoms in Washington D.C. from 1969 to 1977, then ExecutiveVice President of Wackenhut from 1981 to present (1991). And Peter Videnieks, a contract officer at Customs in Washington D.C. from1972 to 1974, then again at Customs from 1976 to 1981, said he did not knowRobert Chasen. How could that be? Videnieks had worked in the same departmentwith Chasen, off and on, for at least three years.
Videnieks also testified that he met Chasen in the line of his duties sometimebetween 1977 and 1980. Yet, Chasen no longer worked at Customs between 1977and 1980?
Olmstead asked Videnieks to reiterate his position with the PROMISE software. "Iworked on the [PROMISE] contract. ... The procurement was assigned to me by alady named Patricia Rudd. ... My function was to conduct a competitiveprocurement, negotiate an award of contract, and then administer the contract."
Olmstead: "What time frames are we talking when you were ...?"
Videnieks: "We're talking about from the day that I reported for duty atJustice, which was in September 1981, through about 1985."
Olmstead: "Are you familiar with Hadron Company?" (This was a loadedquestion because Earl Brian, who Videnieks testified he did not know, ownedHadron Company at the time of the court proceedings.)
Videnieks responded, "Yes, I am."
Olmstead: "Have you done work for Hadron Corporation in your procurementcontract?"
Videnieks: "I supervise currently a contract specialist who isadministering a contract with Hadron."
Olmstead: "Prior to supervising someone, did you personally handle thatparticular contract?"
Videnieks: "I have administered well over a hundred contracts, maybe acouple hundred or several hundred over my career, and I don't recall whether Ihave or not."
Olmstead: "And you have never given a deposition in regards to the Inslawmatter?"
Videnieks: "My recall is not that good. Like I said, I have administeredhundreds of contracts, and I may or may not have administered one with Hadron."
Again Olmstead asked Videnieks if he knew Earl Brian?Videnieks responded, "No,sir."
Olmstead: "Do you know who owns Hadron?"
Videnieks: "I really don't. I've heard I mean, I don't want to speculatenow. He may be an officer with Hadron. He may be."
Olmstead: "You don't recall any questions in any depositions at allregarding that?"
Videnieks: "I do recall questions along these same lines. But again, fromgeneral knowledge, I think he is an officer or has been an officer with Hadron."
Olmstead: "In fact, in your deposition, you admitted you knew that he wasan officer of Hadron, didn't you?"
Videnieks: "I would like to see my transcript from my deposition as towhat I said ..."
Olmstead went on to question Videnieks about "Modification No. 12" ofthe PROMISE software. Videnieks stated that he knew what Modification No. 12was, but repeatedly refused to discuss it until someone produced the originalInslaw contract. Finally, under pressure to give a general recollection, hesaid it dealt with the twelfth modification to the PROMISE software.
Olmstead asked, "Were you personally chastised as a result of ModificationNo. 12 in the way you handled that?"
Videnieks: "Please define `chastised.'"
Olmstead: "Were you told that you took, converted, and stole sixmillion dollars worth of Inslaw software through the way you handledModification No. 12?"
Videnieks: "A judge in the bankruptcy court ruled that. Since thenthe record was erased. And that language should not be the way a nonlawyerlike me understands, it is no longer in existence ..."
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It is necessary to digress here to disclose the magnitude of the apparentgovernment coverup relative to Riconosciuto's case. Abouttwo weeks before Riconosciuto's trial began, I had received a call from Michaelasking me to contact Brian Leighton, a former assistant U.S. Attorney inFresno, whom Michael claimed to have provided information to. Michael waslining up his ducks. Essentially his defense rested on his ability to provehe worked for the U.S. government in intelligence operations, buthis lawyer was behind schedule in making the contacts.
Brian Leighton had been instrumental in prosecuting 29 members of adrug/arms organization called "The Company." The Company had beenwritten up in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 28, 1982 under theheading "Story of Spies, Stolen Arms and Drugs." According toreporter Bill Wallace, The Company consisted of (quote) "about 300 members,many of them former military men or expolice officers with nearly $30 millionworth of assets, including planes, ships and real estate."
The article went on to say that "federal drug agents said theorganization had imported billions of dollars worth of narcotics from LatinAmerica, and was also involved in gunrunning and mercenary operations." Specialized military equipment consisting of nine infrared sniperscopes, atelevision camera for taking pictures in darkness, 1500 rounds of small armstracer ammunition for night combat, a fivefoot remotecontrol helicopter, andsecret components from the radar unit of a Sidewinder guided missile werestolen from the U.S. Naval Weapons Station at China Lake in the Mojave Desert.
Federal agents said some of the stolen equipment was going to be used tomake electronic equipment for drug smugglers and some was traded to drugsuppliers in Columbia. Twentynine members of the Company were indicted by theFresno federal grand jury in 1981. Amongst those indicated was Andrew "Drew"Thornton, 40, a former narcotics officer.
On September 13, 1985, the Los Angeles Times published the story of Thornton'sdeath, entitled, "Former Narcotics Officer Parachutes Out of Plane, Dieswith 77 Pounds of Cocaine." The article said Thornton was indicted in1981 for "allegedly flying a plane to South America for a reputed drug ringknown as `The Company.'" In an interview with the Los Angeles Times,Brian Leighton said, "I'm glad his parachute didn't open. I hope he got ahell of a high out of that ..."
Thornton's mysterious death was discussed at length in a book written by SallyDenton entitled, "The Blue Grass Conspiracy." Part of TheCompany was headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. Prosecutors in Lexington,Fresno, California (Brian Leighton), and Miami, Florida were workingtogether in a joint effort to bring down The Company.
The San Francisco Chronicle noted that in January, 1982, Gene Berry, a stateprosecutor in Charlotte Harbor, Florida, was shot in the face as he answered hisdoor. Police subsequently arrested Bonnie Kelly as Berry's murderer. Bonnie's husband, Mike McClure Kelly, was a suspected member of The Company wholater pleaded guilty in the Fresno, California case.
In Michael Riconosciuto's documents, I discovered a letterdated March 24, 1982, written on Cabazon letterhead toMichael McClure at Hercules Corporation from Art Welmas, President of theCabazon Band of Indians. Copies (cc:) were also noted to Marshall Riconosciutoand Michael Riconosciuto. The letter complimented McClure's competence inpresenting a clear and lucid explanation of a power pack under development atHercules. (Hercules was owned by Marshall Riconosciuto, Michael Riconosciutoand Patrick Moriarty, the Red Devil fireworks mogul. More on Moriarty later.)
Throughout Michael's documents, I found references to Michael McClure andBonnie Lynne G. Kelly. Michael's code word for Mike McClure was "Gopher."
Journalist Danny Casolaro had been communicating regularly withMichael Riconosciuto and obviously learned about The Company. It is not to be overlooked that coincidentally or not, Ari BenMenashe (a formerIsraeli intelligence agent who lived in Lexington, Kentucky) told Bill Hamiltonthat two Lexington FBI agents had been enroute to meet with Danny at theMartinsburg Hotel on the day of his death. The Company was headquartered inLexington. Danny was not meeting with the FBI relative to PROMIS, he waspreparing to turn over drug trafficking information on The Company.
BenMenashe further told Hamilton that one of the agents, E.B. Cartinhour, wasangry that the Justice Department was not pursuing Reagan administrationofficials for their role in the October Surprise.
******
Meanwhile, it was necessary to contact Brian Leighton to corroborateRiconosciuto's story that he had been instrumental in helpingLeighton identify members of The Company.
I did not directly contact Leighton, who had resigned from the U.S.Attorney's office shortly after the prosecutions and entered into privatelaw practice, but asked the Secret Service agent in Los Angeles who had visitedmy home regarding the "Queen's accident" in Mariposa(mentioned in the first chapter of this book) to run a check on Riconosciuto.
Instead, he called Brian Leighton and when I checked back with him, heacknowledged talking to Leighton about Riconosciuto. Leighton confirmed to the Secret Service agent that he recalled a threehourfacetoface meeting with Riconosciuto and remembered him well. He gavespecific details of Riconosciuto's cooperation with the U.S. attorney'soffice. I thanked the Secret Service agent and hung up.
I next contacted a retired police officer and colleague in the Mariposainvestigation, and asked him to put me in touch with someone trustworthy ingovernment who could corraborate Leighton's information. The contact was madeand this individual agreed to call Brian Leighton to see if he could gleanfurther details of Michael's cooperation with the U.S. attorney's office. Forpurposes of anonymity, this source will be identified as "R.J." WhenI checked back, he confirmed that Leighton did indeed remember Michael'shelp with the case and, in fact, said Michael led law enforcement officers to amarijuana cache belonging to members of The Company.
At that point I was satisfied that Michael had been operating within theframework of The Company and had spoken accurately about his cooperation withBrian Leighton. I called Thomas Olmstead, Michael's attorney, and related theabove information.
Two weeks later, on January 15, 1992, at Michael's trial in Tacoma,Washington, Brian Leighton testified that the case in question involved thetheft of military equipment from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center inCalifornia. "The FBI and Naval Intelligence Service began theinvestigation," he said, "and there were several people that weretargets of the investigation. One of those targets began cooperating with usand then it became a DEA and FBI investigation. The thefts occurred in 1979 and1980, and the case continued on for a couple of years."
Leighton testified that he "could not recall ever meeting personallywith Mr. Riconosciuto and he didn't know if he spoketo him personally or spoke to him through a government agent." Under crossexamination, Leighton testified that he thought Riconosciuto wasbrought to him by an agent Barnes from the Oakland or San Francisco office ofthe FBI, but he couldn't remember exactly ..."
After Leighton's testimony, Michael called me and asked, "What happened?" I was astonished at Leighton's testimony. What was at stake here? Michaelspeculated that Leighton was operating out of fear. He said Leighton retiredfrom the U.S. Attorney's office shortly after prosecuting members of TheCompany, and recalled that the prosecuting attorney in Florida had been shot inthe head.
I called the Secret Service officer and R.J. individually and asked them torepeat what Leighton had told them before the trial. They both repeatedverbatim what Leighton had told them the first time about Michael Riconosciuto. I said it appeared Leighton had perjured himself in court. Neither couldunderstand why?
******
In August 1994, I received from a friend of Bill Hamilton's (President ofInslaw) a Declaration, signed by Hamilton, which stated that " ... On orabout April 3, 1991, I spoke by telephone with Mr. Brian Leighton, an attorneyin private practice in Fresno, California. He stated that during the early1980's, while serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in Fresno,California, he had investigated a nationwide criminal enterprise known as`The Company,' which was engaged in illegal drug trafficking on a massivescale.
"Mr. Leighton told me that (A) Michael Riconosciutohad furnished Mr. Leighton `valuable intelligence' on illegal drug activitiesand The Company; (B) Mr. Leighton had been unable to use the information inprosecution but (C) the failure to use Mr. Riconosciuto's intelligenceinformation was not because of any fault of Mr. Michael Riconosciuto."
Also mentioned in the affidavit was corroboration of Riconosciuto'swork in the defense and national security fields. Section six of theaffidavit noted that during the course of a telephone conversation with RobertNichols on or about April 18, 1991, Hamilton learned that Nichols had attended ameeting that had been organized by a Colonel Bamford, an aide to General Meyer,then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Others participating in the meetingwere department heads from Department of Defense scientific facilities.
Michael Riconosciuto was the principal presenterto this group of seniorlevel national security research and developmentofficials. According to Nichols, Riconosciuto made a day long presentationto this meeting of scientists lasting from approximately 9 a.m. untilapproximately 4 p.m., answering questions from the participants and filling thehalls of the conference facility with his handprinted notes on the scientificand technical issues that arose in the course of his presentation.
I was able to locate in Riconosciuto's files, a letterwritten on July 20, 1983 from Tom Bamford, Vice President of Researchand Development at FMC Corporation in Santa Clara, California to William Frashin Escondido, California. At that time, Frash, a retired USMC Colonel, wasChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Lilac Corporation.
Essentially, the letter expressed enthusiasm for the potential applicationof technologies being proposed to FMC Corporation by Meridian Arms, andcalled for a list of all active participants in the joint venture. At that timeRiconosciuto was vice president of Meridian Arms. Bamfordadded, " ... You may want to do this only for Mike at this stage."
Frash hastened to respond to Bamford on July 27, 1983 to apprise him of ameeting between himself and Michael Riconosciuto, RobertBooth Nichols, Peter Zokosky and Patrick Moriarty (Michael's father's businesspartner) regarding "energy transfer phenomena." A proposal wasunderway to outline technology in the form of patents applied for jointlybetween Meridian Arms and FMC. Frash noted that the technology would "supercedeall existing world patents in the field."
"Had we patented previously, it would only have announced our `edge' in thefield," he wrote. Three of the four major patents that would beforthcoming were (1) the application of Perturbation Theory to enhanced energytransfer, (2) the application of stationary methods with powders and aerosols toenhanced energy transfer and (3) the application of Perturbation Theory tohydrodynamic flow regimes.
It is noteworthy that the submarine propulsion system depicted in the movie, "Huntfor Red October" utilized this theory. Frash concluded, "Tom, as youwell know, Mike's tried and true value is in the field of high voltage andelectrostatics and their application. The meetings in San Jose highlightedapplication of this technology in over one hundred areas that are inhouse FMC." He added, " ... Per your reference to meetings in Washington, D.C., Iassume the meetings with Dr. Fair, Admiral Renkin and the ACCOM peoplewill suffice in this matter. In closing we are very enthused, Tom, and we lookforward to an expeditious closing. Sincerely, William Frash."
Frash's payment for putting together the above referenced joint venture, ifsuccessful, would be $500,000 for the first fifteen million invested, or$166,666.66 for only five million invested, a onehundredthousanddollar per yearsalary for a period of 20 years, and a 2% share in the gross profits. This,according to a Letter of Understanding sent to and signed by Robert BoothNichols and Michael Riconosciuto in July, 1983.
In questioning Michael Riconosciuto about the FMC agreements,he said he attempted to break away from Robert Nichols in 1984. "The guynearly got me terminated," declared Riconosciuto. "At the time I wasworking with Nichols on a proposal to FMC Corporation, which is Food MachineryCorporation, they produced the Bradley Personnel Carrier. I've got a completepapertrail on the technology that was being presented. We conducted a testdemonstration of an enhanced airfield device which I developed. We alsoconducted a test of a hydrodynamic implosion type of explosive device.
"The implosion device settled the Nevada Test Range by about 30 feet. TheLawrence Livermore Labs and the Gallup Ordinance people built a prototype of thedevice, but they overbuilt it because they wanted an impressive demonstration.It created an international incident because the demonstration was picked up bySoviet monitoring satellites.
"Anyway, the bona fides were established. The next thing was to get thebusiness done and get me into harness in a program. I was all for it, but Bob[Nichols] started getting spooky on me. He wanted to receive the setup of ourend offshore, in Singapore. He wanted to receive $20 million dollars in cash inSingapore,and he wanted to use certain of the technology overseas,namely in Australia, OK?
"Bob started drinking a lot. He was obviously under a lot of pressure fromsomewhere, and his fascade of respectability started to crack. About that timeBob began pressuring me to do things a certain way. We'd already been approvedat the executive level by FMC. But we still had to go through the legaldepartment and FMC is a publicly held stock corporation. So we still had to gothrough the shareholders for about eight months, which put us about a year awayfrom consummating the deal.
"So, I asked Bob for some extra money to meet my everyday expenses, but Bobsaid, `Hurry up and get the business done and then you'll have plenty of money.' I tried to explain to Bob that there was no way he could expedite this thing,and so on and so forth. Well, Bob became really overbearing. And that's whenhe demanded that I state things in the contract proposal to FMC which would havebeen misstatements, to the point of being illegal. That's when I started havingsecond thoughts about it.
"There were other people involved in the development of that technology.Bob wanted me to pay him out of my share and make no reference to the otherpeople in the agreement. But when you've got the University of California andthe University of Chicago having 16 percent of your company, having 16 percentof Hercules Research and Interprobe, you know, how could I misrepresent theinterests of my dad, Moriarty and [Admiral] Al Renkin in a deal with a U.S.publicly held corporation [FMC]?
"At that time, Riconosciutohad been Vice President of Meridian Arms, a subsidiary of Meridian InternationalLogistics. But he was also technical advisor for F.I.D.C.O. (FirstIntercontinental Development Corporation) of which Nichols was on the Board ofDirectors. Noted Riconosciuto, "I walked into F.I.D.C.O. in equal goodfaith. And that also turned sour because Bob wanted me to illegally takeembargoed technology out of the United States, to run an operation withembargoed armaments and high technology outside of the United States.
"So I walked out on Bob. And Bob put the heat on me and they wouldn'tleave me alone. When I got remarried [to Bobby Riconosciuto],they continued to harrass me by putting out false intelligence reports on me tolaw enforcement ..."
I asked Michael why he didn't fight back? Michael responded, "You don'tseem to understand. All my involvements were under closely controlledsituations. There's only one time in my life when I was planning on doingsomething offcolor, and it never went anywhere. All the rest of the time,everything was under complete controls. I never took any elective actions. Everything was, you know, on direct orders. And I got to the point where Ibalked with Bob Nichols and that's when he went ballistic on me."
Riconosciuto said he was in the process of cleaning up hislife in Washington state when a private investigator from Inslaw contacted him. "I didn't want to get nailed for piracy of that software, so I talked to myattorney, who talked to the Inslaw attorneys, and I gave them a declaration. And about that time, Peter Viedenieks, who was an associate of both Robert BoothNichols and Dr. John Nichols, called me and told me I was my own worst enemy. He said if I didn't cool it, if I didn't stonewall any further requests forinformation from the House Judiciary Committee, I was going away forever. Itold Viedenieks that I was already in too deep, and he repeated that `I was myown worst enemy.' Seven days later I was arrested on drug charges."
******
Ted Gunderson was one of the few "cooperating" witnesses at Michael'strial. Through his affidavit and testimony, Ted hoped to supply the defensewith needed corroboration of Michael's covert government sanctioned activities. Unfortunately for Michael, Ted could not disclose numerous activities whichhad included Robert Booth Nichols. At one time Gunderson, Nichols andRiconosciuto had been inseparable, like the three musketeers. But, Nichols was currently under investigation by the Los Angeles FBI foralleged involvement in organized crime in the U.S. and abroad.
Fortunately, however, Gunderson's resume added credibility to the provocativeaffidavit he entered into court on Michael's behalf. He had been Senior Special Agent in Charge (SAC) at Los Angeles FBIheadquarters from 1977 to 1979 when he retired from the FBI and went to workas chief investigator for F. Lee Bailey, Esq. Prior to that, from 1960 to1965, Gunderson was Special Agent Supervisor at FBI headquarters in Washington,D.C.. Interestingly, amongst a prestigious list of positions nationwide,he was also SAC from 1973 to 1977 in Dallas, Texas (where he becamefriends with Clint Murchison, Jr., according to his livein partner, J.M.. J.M.stated in phone interviews that she and Gunderson attended parties withMurchison in Dallas, and Gunderson phoned him often from their Manhattan Beachhome).
In 1979, Gunderson received the Alumni Highest Effort Award in the Field of LawEnforcement from Sigma Alpha Epsilon Social Fraternity at the University ofNebraska. In 1979, he also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from theUniversity of Nebraska in recognition of distinguished and devoted service tohis country.
Gunderson's handwritten affidavit, submitted to Michael's lawyer on September27, 1991, read as follows (excerpted): "I, Ted L. Gunderson, make thefollowing free and voluntary statement. No threats or promises were made to getme to make this statement. I was born 11/7/28 at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"In early 1986, I met one Ralph Olberg through a friend of mine, BillSloane. Sloane is a former official with HUD. Sloane was appointed byPresident Ronald Reagan to the HUD position after the president was elected in1980.
"Olberg is a prominent American businessman who was spearheadingprocurement of U.S. weapons and technology for the Afghanistan rebels.
"In late Spring or early summer of 1986, Ralph Olberg, one Tim Osman,Michael Riconosciuto and I met in a room at the Hilton Hotel,Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, California. I accompanied Michael Riconosciuto,and Osman and Olberg were together. We were there to discuss Olberg's role withthe worldwide support network involving the Mujahaden, Afghanistan ResistanceMovement against the Soviets.
"In particular we discussed the ability of the Mujahaden's willingnessto field test weapons, new and esoteric in the field and to return a researchreport, complete with photos.
"We also discussed the capture and/or defection of high ranking Sovietmilitary personnel who had sensitive compartmentalized information and theavailability of their briefings. We discussed one person who was a Sovietdefector and was a communications officer who had detailed information of thehighest levels of Soviet military C3I (Command Control Intelligence andCommunications).
"We also discussed the Soviet directed weapons system referred to in theconversation as `Blue Death.' Michael and I were told by Olberg that witnessesstated the corpses did not decay even after being exposed and unburied for sixmonths.
"We discussed the possibility of Michael analyzing one of these unitscaptured in the field by the Afghan rebels for the purpose of having Michaelhelp their technical experts developeffective countermeasures.
"We discussed a military joint venture in Turkey to producespecialized ammunition. We discussed a lobbying effort to legally obtainStinger II missiles as well as the various Stinger post and Stinger alternates. Michael was to formulate a plan to sanitize the electronics of any Stingers thatwould be at risk of Soviet capture so any information gained from a capturedStinger could not be effectively used against the U.S. or NATO forces.
"This report was to be presented to a Congressional position as support forthe lobbying effort to convince Congress to legally sanction the shipment ofthese missiles to the Afghan rebels.
"We discussed Michael's proposed modification of Chinese 107 MM rockets andhow to reconfigure the package into a backpack portable effective artillerycounter battlery system.
"We discussed Michael's connection with the Chinese weapons position,Norinco, to provide the basic components for the unassembled rocket system. Wediscussed the modification and assembly of these 107 MM rockets and theirlaunchers at a facility in Pakistanknown as the Pakistan Ordinance Works.
"It was my understanding from the discussion that we were working on alegally sanctioned arms assistance project to the Afghan rebels and that RalphOlberg was working through the Afghan desk at the State Department as well asthrough Senator Humphreys office. "This was subsequently confirmed byjournalist Danny Casolaro who was recently `suicided.'
"Olberg indicated a potential turf battle problem with certain factions ofthe CIA and his group MSH (Management Science For Health). Innegotiations and/or lobbying efforts with Congress, the CIA MSH people werearguing that Ralph and Tim Osman's group did not truly represent the leadershipof the Afghan rebel resistance.
"Tim and Ralph proposed calling their people and having an unprecedentedleadership meeting in Washington D.C. to prove that their group did in factrepresent the full leadership of the Mujahaden.
"When I recently called Ralph, he denied that the above meeting had takenplace and then after prodding, he finally admitted to it and he asked me not totalk about it. This five page statement is true and correct to the best of myknowledge. Ted L. Gunderson."
******
Later in my investigation, I obtained from Michael Riconosciuto'sfiles in the desert, a handwritten note from "T.G." to "Michael"which read as follows: "Raymond is arriving at LAX 7:55 p.m. Air Canadavia Flight 793 from Toronto. Will have to go through Customs. This willgive us another member for our drug/arms operation." The note gave atelephone number where "T.G." could be reached. "Raymond,"referred to in the note, is presumably Raymond Lavas, Gunderson's formerforensic's expert during his tenure in the FBI.
******
Michael's trial was not going well. He called and asked me to contact R.J. andbring him to my house. Michael was ready to talk he wanted me to set up aphone conversation in which he could preliminarily open negotiations for entryinto the Federal Witness Protection Program. I was out of my depth here. Ihad no idea whether R.J. would cooperate with such a request. Nevertheless, Icalled him and related Michael's proposal. He said he had no authority toapprove such a request, but he would take the information and pass it along.
He arrived at my home early the following week and Michael called as scheduled.Excerpts from that first taperecorded conversation went as follows: (Michael didmost of the talking) " ... In the Fresno area, there was a group ofpeople known as theFresno Company, and the Bernard brothers were involved in it and JamieClark was involved and all of these people seemed to have charmed lives ...
"The Company was originally out of Lexington, Kentucky and Mena,Arkansas. Brian Leighton was the assistant U.S. Attorney who was the mosteffective person in formulating a strategy in the Justice Department to go afterthese people.
"We recognized what they were, for what they were, at that time, and therewere a few ATF guys down in Los Angeles that recognized them for what they were,OK? Here was a group of over 300 people, most of them exlaw enforcement andexmilitary, exintelligence people involved in a major drug and smugglingoperation. And they were involved in compromising activities. The bottom linewas espionage.
"And all Leighton served to do was vaccinate the group againstfurther penetration. Just hardened them. And all the major sources that weredeveloped from inside turned up dead. A federal judge in Texas turned up dead.
" ... This is a nasty bunch of people. And they're still alive and well. Now where that dovetails into my current situation,is in 1984 I was involved with Robert Booth Nichols who owns Meridian ArmsCorporation and is a principle in F.I.D.C.O., First Intercontinental DevelopmentCorporation. The CEO of FIDCO is George Pender and Bob Maheu was VicePresident ...
"FIDCO was an NSC [National Security Council] corporate cutout. FIDCO was created to be the corporate vehicle to secure the financing for thereconstruction of the cities of Beirut and Damour in Lebanon. And they wereworking out of an office in Nicosia, Cyprus.
" ... And here I got involved with a group of people that were all highprofile and should have been above reproach. FIDCO had a companion companycalled Euramae Trading which operated througout the Middle East. I came incontact with the PROMISE software (unintelligible). Euramae had a distributioncontract with several Arab countries and I was asked to evaluate the hardwareplatforms they had chosen. That was IBM/AS400 stuff ...
" ... That had come from IBM Tel Aviv but it came through a cutout, LinkSystems, because they couldn't deal directly with the Arabs.
"And I came across a guy named Michael T. Hurley and I thought he workedfor the State Department but it turned out he was incountry attache for the DEAin Nicosia, Cyprus. [Nicosia is the capital of the island of Cyprus, off thecoast of Lebanon]. Now, the DEA had no real presence in Lebanon. Neither didanybody else, including the Israelis. They had their usual network of contactsbut it was very ineffective. The only way to penetrate that situation, wasto get into the drug trade.
"Euramae got into the drug trade and I was told that it was a fullysanctioned NSC directed operation, which it turns out that it was ...All those operations were bonafide and all the people who were in them weredefinitely key government people, although they were not who they said theywere.
"They all worked for different agencies other than was stated. Probablypart of the normal disinformation that goes with that. And I was technicaladvisor for FIDCO and we had auspices through the government of Lebanon to getin and out of Lebanon.
"But as far as going to the eastern part of Lebanon, unless you wereconnected with the drug trade, your chances were slim coming outunscathed ... They built a network throughoutthe Bekaa Valley, and [Robert Booth] Nichols ... he is under HaroldOkimoto from the Hawaiian Islands.
"Harold Okimoto was represented to me as being an intelligence person,which he is. He has worked under the auspices of [Frank] Carlucci foryears. [Carlucci was former CIAdeputy director and former Defense secretary]. Apparently Haroldperformed services for the U.S. government during World War II. He's ofJapanese ancestry. I guess he was rewarded for services well done.
" ... Harold operates through a company called Island Tobacco Corporation. He has contracts for all the condiments at all the casinos in Atlantic City, inReno, in Vegas, in Macao, China ... he's got contacts in Honolulu, the Orient... a couple of Jews he knows in Bankok ... and there is a casino, no a cityabout 15 miles north of Beruit that Harold has his fingers in.
"When FIDCO was wheeling and dealing on financing for the reconstruction ofthe infrastructure of Beirut, they were making sweetheart deals with Syrianmobsters and the brother of the president of Syria, Hafez Assad.
" ... The intelligence people in their infinite wisdom decided tocapitalize on the longstanding battle between Rifat Assad and his group and theJafaar family. Selectively they were backing both people, but they were alsoplaying them off against one another, developing networks. They got a bunch ofprominent Syrians thoroughly compromised and they were in tow in theintelligence game. And they had people that could get me in and out of theBekaa Valley, even out of certain areas of Syria.
"From an intelligence standpoint, it was a success. But to maintainthe credibility of those intelligence operations the heroin had to flow. To make it real. And the stuff was starting to accumulate in a warehouseoutside of Larnaca. "I personally was in a warehouse where Hurley and George Pender andGeorge Marcobie (phonetic spelling) told me there wasupwards of twentytwo tons. And even though it was packaged forshipment, the smell of it in that closed warehouse was overpowering. You know, white heroin like that has a certain odor because of the wayit's processed.
"They had authorization for what they called `controlled deliveries'into the United States. And they would target certain cities and thenfollow the stuff out, ostensibly unmaskingthe network and conducting prosecutions.
"However, the operation became perverted at the U.S. end of thepipeline. Controlled heroin shipments were doubled, sometimes tripled,and only one third of the heroin was returned to the DEA.
"At a certain transfer point at the airport in Larnaca, the excessbaggage from the original controlled delivery would be allowed to go through. Iwas given the names of the narcotics people who were handling that. Butthere were a couple of agents who were on the up and up, and they hadsuspicions.
"An intelligence agent who worked with DIA is now deceased. His name wasTony Asmar and he got on to the operation early on, and started going toe to toewith Hurley [DEA]. He died in a bomb blast and it was ascribed to terrorists. And it actually was terrorists who did it, but his cover was deliberately blown. Myself and others suspected Hurley and Bob Nichols and Glen Shockley wereresponsible for that ... "
******
After researching Michael Riconosciuto's information, R.J.noted to me that Michael gave mostly valid information, but he could not provethat Michael had been involved. He did, however, verify (through Customs)that Michael HAD been in Lebanon,but he could not verify the details of the drug operation.
Michael responded (on a taped message to R.J.) by visually recounting the DEAapartment/condo in Nicosia, Cyprus: "The DEA had a condo, I think it wason Columbra (phonetically spelled) Street, in Nicosia, Cyprus [off the coast ofLebanon].
"They had a ham radio station there. It was an ICOM single side bandamateur radio setup, with a linear ..."
"Were you actually there?" I asked. Michael quipped, "Yes, Iwas there," then continued. "I can describe the antenna system, onthe top floor and the way it's wired up and everything. Unless you were there,you wouldn't know it was ICOM equipment.
"Now, the game plan with Euramae and Hurley's operation ..." Pause. " ... You need to understand that the airport in Lebanon was closed down. I took the ferry from Larnaca to Jounieb. Now Jounieb was slightly south ofwhere the casino city was and the casino city was intact. Beirut was anightmare, and so was Damour, because the PLO destroyed the infrastructure byburrowing bunkers, and there was no water, electricity or phones. It was acombat zone.
"The Syrian mob controlled the Casino du Liban in a little city north ofBeirut. It was used as a front by narcotics people. Island Tobacco,owned by Harold Okimoto, sells all the cigarettes there. Now, I could give youthe names of the families. They pitted them off against one another. F.I.D.C.O. was to finance the reconstruction of the infrastructure of the citiesof Beirut and Damour. Deals were cut as to who got what concessions. Therewere certain families, like the ElJorr family that had to be placated. Andthere was Rifat Assad and his group. "Tony Asmar figured out what wasgoing on with Hurley, that they were shipping `noncontrolled' loads ofheroin back to the U.S.. They killed Tony ..."
"What were the names of the people you were working for over there?," I asked. Michael's time was always limited on the phone.
"Ok, there was a man named Maurice Ganem. He had a relative, either abrother or a cousin, who is a senior DEA official with Michael Hurley. I can't remember his name right now. Anyways, Maurice was agency, youknow, in country, in Lebanon. And Maurice and I and George Pender workedtogether."
"Which agency? CIA or DEA?," I asked.
"CIA." Michael continued. " ... And then there wasDanny Habib. Danny Habib and Bob Nichols worked out of Cario (phoneticspelling) and Italy."
"And Bob was NSA or ..." "No, Bob was NSC at that time."
"George Pender and Bob Clark were the high level contacts on all of this. Bob Clark got drummed out because he was clean. And McFarland then took over,OK?"
"Uh huh."
"So, it was George Pender and McFarland and Michael McManus[Assistantto President Reagan at the White House]."
I asked, "What was your involvement with that particular operation?"
"I handled communications protocol. All the communications and financialtransactions. If I could get my records on line I could show all the moneyflows, everything."
******
Michael called back later that day and we continued our conversation. He wasintent on talking to someone in FinCen (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). " ... The keystone cops are working on my defense. You know it's really anordeal. Have you talked to R.J. again?"
"No Mike, he's not giving much information."
"Listen, tell him that not only am I willing to polygraph, but I need someexpert help and I think he needs some expert help. In the league we're playingin, the only guys we can get that have the wherewithall are with FinCen. Thatstands for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Get me a technical guy thatspeaks my language."
"Alright, Mike ..."
"I'm talking about Swift Chips. That stands for Clearing House InterbankPayment System, Ok?"
"Right."
"Im mad, OK?"
"Uh huh."
"I'm real mad. The government has all my files and records. They've gotall of my optical storage disks. Each of those optical storages, 130 of them,contains 20,000 plus pages. They jacked me around so bad ..."
"Mike ..."
" ... Get an expert that speaks my language, and I'll tell him everything Iknow and he can do so much damage, they won't need my testimony or anythingelse."
"Mike, everything you know about what?"
"Tell R.J. it goes all the way back to the Cayman Islands and the Bahamasand Castle Bank. Norm Caspar ... Resorts International Bank ..."
"How'd you get this stuff?"
"I handled the money for them, OK?"
"For who?"
" ... For the Wackenhut people. For Norm Caspar who was a Wackenhutemployee during all of this. Now, there was the Workers Bank in Columbia. Ican't pronounce the Spanish name for it, I just know it as Workers Bank. I setup their virtual dead-drops ..."
"What's that?"
"It's a way to get around A.C.H. reconciliations on a daily basis. It'lltake an expert, you know, I can't even talk to a normal human being about this..."
"O.K."
" ... And the bottom line here is Bob Nichols and Gilbert Rodriguez,Michael Abbell, whose now an attorney in D.C., but he was with the criminalsection of the Justice Department and Harold Okimoto, and Jose Londodo, andGlenn Shockley are all in bed together. (Three years after thisconversation, Michael Abbell was indicted for laundering money for the CaliCartel).
"Now Ted Gunderson ..."
"Mike, have you got any paperwork on that?"
"Now, wait a minute. Gunderson was physically with me when Wayne Reeder,Peter Zokosky and his wife and several of Wayne Reeder's lieutenants, BobNichols and his wife, Harold Okimoto, George Pender, Deborah Pender, DillPender, and myself were all together ..."
" ... Where?"
" ... At Wayne Reeders country club, golf club, in Indio, California. AndBob discussed openly in front of Ted Gunderson and myself and everyone present bragged about Glenn Shockley and Jose Londono having 3,500 soldiers. It's nowalmost double that ..."
"What does that mean? What are the soldiers?"
Mike: "R.J. will know what it means."
"Alright. OK."
"This took place in 1983. I have correspondence on the things we weredoing. But I was in fear of my life because Bob was starting to act irrational. The guy was getting drunk all the time, waving a gun out of the car window,shooting in the air, you know, just really doing a mind trip on me. I've beenon the run ever since ..."
"Listen, Mike, what do you need from FinCen?"
"If I had help from the FinCen people, I could reconstruct my files. Tellthem that I need two types of computers. I need a VAX 11730 set up with two RLOII disks; one RA80 and a TU80 tape drive. That's one package. And then I needa VAX 3900 computer. Now the reason why I need the older, slower VAX and Iknow where to get all this stuff, no problem, I've got the VAX's in SouthernCalifornia, but I need a place to set them up and somebody to operate them, andjust follow my instructions."
"Alright."
"Now, the VAX Series 3900 machine ... it's too complicated to go into whatmass storage devices, but those are the two levels of machines I need.
"Ok, I'm thinking about going to visit your wife in Southern California, doyou want us to bring those computers up here?"
"No, No! No, leave them where they're at. Tell R.J. to find someone atFinCen. If we move them around, we're going to wreck them. I'm not trying totalk down to R.J., but this is too far above him."
"Mike, Raymond Lavas turned some of your disks over to the JackBrooks investigative committee (House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw)."
"Yeah, I know. There's no data on those disks. What that is, is that is asubset of VAX B.M.S., OK? What I do is I modify some of the VAX BMS routines toactivate a one time pad encryption scheme. That's why I have to have two RLO2drives on the VAX 11730, because one RLO2 Platter is a system planner, the otherone is the one time pad. The data is on a 1625 BPI 9 track tape on the TU80tape drive. That's the system configuration."
"If you say so."
"Now, R.J. needs to put me in touch with somebody he trusts at FinCen. There's about 120 experts there. There are a few guys there that speak mylanguage.
"What's the encryption key?"
"Well, they're ten digit numbers ... it's a one time pad, but it has apseudorandom, prime number expansion system ..."
"Mike, do you have access to PROMISE through this system?"
"What? Oh, I've got access to PROMISE, I've got access to FOIMS ..."
"Well, PROMISE is the one that's going to get you off the hook in court."
"Ok, I understand that. But PROMISE and FOIMS are one and the same. Nowthey will say no, that's not true, but in Virginia where the FBI has theircenter, and where the Justice Department has a center in D.C., they're bothAmdahl mainframes, OK?"
"Yes."
" ... You see, I want that RLO II Platter out of the hands of the BrooksCommittee and into the hands of somebody who'll do with it what I tell them todo. I don't want somebody to run it up without first getting my instruction."
"Does it have to be that particular one?"
"Yes, either that or it will take me six months to rewrite the subset. They want me to give them the codes to unravel everything. If I did, theywouldn't know what to do with it anyway. They'd make a mess out of things."
"Mike, what are you going to provide to FinCen?"
"I'm going to show them how these boys handled the life blood of thecash flow on a day to day basis. I'm going to unmask the whole operation ..."
"Anything specific on Robert Booth Nichols?"
Mike: "Nichols is Harold Okimoto's godson. He's also Renee Hanner's(phonetic sp.) boy, and Wolfgang Fosog's (phonetic sp.) boy."
" ... And who are they?"
"The FinCen people will know. There's also Octon Potnar "
"Alright. Well, if I'm going to play around with this, I don't want to bein the dark ... I could end up like Danny. I've got to know what I'm dealingwith ."
"If you get the right guy at FinCen, he'll jump at this, OK? We've got tostart right now. We're talking about some time getting things up and rolling towhere we're fluid and flexible and functional in their system internationally. They'll be able to watch the daily transactions ..."
******
Michael continued to request of R.J. that he be connected with someone "trustworthy"at FinCen, to no avail. He also requested to be placed into a WitnessProtection Program, again offering to assemble his computer equipment in asecret location and provide FinCen with a day by day view of Mob (and MCACorporation) illegal banking transactions.
According to Michael, before his arrest, he had been handling goldtransfers, money laundering, "virtual dead drops," altered ACH dailyreconciliations and other transactions for various underworld figures includingRobert Booth Nichols, Harold Okimoto, George Pender, Wayne Reeder,Michael A. McManus, Norm Caspar, Gilbert Rodriguez, Jose Londono, GlenShockley, and others.
Michael continued to call and give me taperecorded (at his request) messages topass on to R.J. The man accepted the messages, but they just went down the big,black hole and never emerged again.
One message in particular later became significant to me. The message fromMichael to R.J. went as follows: (Quote) "There are three dozenC130's down at the Firebird Lake Airstrip on the Gila Indian Reservation inArizona. Check out J & G Aviation, it's an FBO. The Fresno Company isalive and well down there.
"The real activity is not at Mirana, it's at Firebird Lake Airstrip. Other airlines operating at Firebird are Beigert, Macavia International,Pacific Air Express, Evergreen and Southern Air.
"Question to R.J.: How much cocaine or heroin can be transported in aC130? Do you want the C130, or do you want the guys who orchestrate it?
"Do a matrix link analysis, then sit down and pick the targets. Otherwise, you will tip off the others and the proof will dry up.
" ... Brian Leighton made 29 arrests out of five hundred within theFresno Company. All Leighton succeeded in doing was to `vaccinate' the FresnoCompany against further penetration."
Riconosciuto said he had a fragile window into thisorganization (The Company), but Leighton and others were causing the window toclose by being too public about their investigation.
The message continued regarding Robert Booth Nichols: "Bob Nicholsruns Glen Shockley. Glen Shockley runs Jose Londono. I [Michael] sat with BobNichols and Mike Abbell. Bob handed him $50,000 cash to handle an internalaffairs investigation that the Justice Department conducted which would have ledto the extradition of Gilbert and Miguel Rodriguez and Jose Londono.
"Bob Nichols told me [Michael] that it was necessary to `crowbar' theinvestigation because they were `intelligence people.'
"Michael wanted to hand The Company and Bob Nichols over to FinCen inexchange for entry into the Witness Protection Program, but nothing wasforthcoming from R.J.
It was two years before I learned who Mike Abbell, Gilbert Rodriguez and JoseLondono were. Abbell had worked in the criminal division of the JusticeDepartment, according to Bill Hamilton. Hamilton added that, to hisknowledge, Abbell had left the DOJ in 1982 and went directly into the Bogota,Columbia law offices of Kaplan and Russin.
A member of our loosely coalesced investigative team, George Williamson, aformer San Francisco Chronicle reporter, obtained Abbell's background fromlibrary directories: From 1973 to 1979 Abbell was staff assistant to theAssistant U.S. Attorney General. From 1979 to 1981 he was the Director ofthe Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division of the Departmentof Justice.
After leaving the Department of Justice in 1982, Abbell became counsel at thelaw firm of Kaplan, Russin and Becchi, with offices in San Francisco,California Bogota, Columbia Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic Bangkok,Thailand Tapai, Taiwan New York Madrid, Spain and Miami, Florida.
As of this writing, Abbell was listed as working in his own firm with a partnernamed Bruno Ristau (Ristau and Abbell) in Washington D.C. Ristau was alsoformerly with the law firm of Kaplan, Russin and Becchi. And from 1958 to 1963he was an attorney in the Internal Security Division and Civil Division of theDepartment of Justice. He was also with the DOJ from 1963 to 1981 where he wasDirector of the Office of Foreign Litigation. Ristau speaks German, Polish,Spanish and French. He was Chairman of the Division of International Law of theWashington D.C. Bar from 1971 to 1973. In the American Bar Association from1981 to 1984, he was Chairman of the Committee of Private International LawPractice. He is also a member of the American Society of International Law. Ristau is obviously a heavyweight in the field of international law.
A TIME magazine article, dated July 4, 1994, described Gilbert Rodriguez asa "leader of the Cali [Columbian drug] cartel, which controls 80% of theworld's cocaine trade." The newly elected president of Columbia,Ernesto Samper Pizano, was accused of taking $3.7 million in campaign funds fromRodriguez, which in effect, put Samper in league with Columbia's drug lords.
Three audio tapes of conversations between Rodriguez and Samper's campaignmanager, Santiago Medina, had been handed over to U.S. State Departmentofficials before the election, but nothing was done. DEA officials werefurious, stating to TIME that "No one did anything. They [the StateDepartment] allowed this travesty to take place. Everybody, including the U.S.government, is participating in this coverup."
The State Department responded, "We can't interfere with elections."
I pulled out a book from a dusty corner of my library entitled, "CocainePolitics" by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, and looked up the nameGilbert Rodriguez. On page 83,Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and Jose Santacruz Londono were mentioned aspart of the early leadership of the Cali cartel. On page 88 it wasnoted that the "Calibased Ocampo and Gilberto Rodriguez had been theprincipal targets of a major DEA Centac investigtion that resulted inindictments of Rodriguez in Los Angeles and New York in 1978."
At that time, President Jimmy Carter's Human Rights foreign policy in LatinAmerica distanced the CIA under Stansfield Turner (later aWackenhut Board Director) from any deathsquad interdiction. The Carteradministration was also reportedly reluctant to go after Ocampo because of itsdetermination in 1977 to sign a Panama Canal treaty with General Torrijos, eventhough Torrijos and family members were heavily involved at the highest levelsof the world cocaine trade.
The Cali cartel, described in a 1983 Customs report, laundered its profitsthrough Miami banks, one of which was Northside Bank of Miami, owned by GilbertoRodriguez. Rodriguez popped up again as the leader of a delegation to the "cocainesummit conference" in Panama City in the early 1980's. Yet, Rodriguez'sname was subsequently removed from DEA reports under the Ronald Reaganadministration. In fact, according to disgruntled DEA agents, some ofwhom suspected they were stumbling into a CIA connection, thecase was never pursued past the indictment level and the Centac 21 taskforce was totally dismantled when Reagan and Bush came to office.
So, Gilbert Rodriguez and Jose Londono were revealed to be high ranking membersof the Cali drug Cartel in Columbia. I wondered if they were also CIAintelligence operatives? Or CIA drug operatives? Or both, as Manuel Noriegahad been? Noriega had ultimately been ousted when he chose to back the violentMedellin cartel, George Bush's target. If in fact Gilberto Rodriguez had beencompromised and forced to cooperate with U.S. officials after his 1978indictment, and taking into account his strategic position of leadership in theCali cartel and his alleged funding of the newly elected president of Columbiain 1994, it would indeed place the U.S. government in a powerful controllingposition within the cartels today. In fact, it would place CIA drug operativesbehind the election of the president of Columbia! The implications wereearthshaking.
******
It is important to point out here that, on August 5, 1991, MichaelRiconosciuto had called Bill Hamilton at Inslaw andasked him to obtain information on former DOJ official Mike Abbell. Riconosciuto planned to trade information on Abbell, Rodriguez, Nichols andothers to the FBI in exchange for entry into a Witness Protection Program.
But Hamilton, pressed for time and not comprehending the significance of the "drug"connection, had turned the investigation over to Danny Casolaro.Riconosciuto had stressed to Hamilton that Abbell'sactivities might be risky to track and he should not take the informationlightly.
That same day, August 5, Casolaro called Bob Bickel,the Texas oil engineer who once worked as an informant for the Customs Bureau,to discuss Mike Abbell. Bickel later confirmed that Casolaro had infact discussed Abbell, Nichols and Rodriguez at length during that lastphone conversation. And he added, "Danny confronted Robert BoothNicholsabout his relationship with Mike Abbell."
Hamilton and Casolaro secretly devised a plan whereby Danny wouldconduct an inquiry with the Department of Justice, but would couch a number ofother inquiries in with the Mike Abbell inquiry to avoid alerting authorities tothe real "focus" of their search.
An October 15, 1991 Village Voice investigative piece, entitled "The LastDays of Danny Casolaro," by James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan,shed further light on Casolaro's investigation during those last five days: (Note that most of Danny's last calls focused on "drug connections.")On Monday, August 5th, "Riconosciuto called BillHamilton from his jail in Tacoma. He wanted some information about a formerJustice Department attorney [Mike Abbell], and warned Hamilton that getting theinformation might be dangerous. Hamilton called Casolaro to help him findout about the attorney.
"That same day, Danny called Bob Bickel to say that he was "gettingclose to the source, and he would soon go to Martinsburg and bring back the headof the Octopus."
Tuesday, August 6: Casolaro had been typing steadily sinceMonday, and by afternoon, he'd finished. Olga, his housekeeper, helped him packa leather tote bag. She also remembered him packing a thick sheaf of papersinto a dark brown or black briefcase. Danny walked out the door saying, "Ihave all my papers ... Wish me luck. I'll see you in a couple of days." That was the last time Olga saw Casolaro alive.
Wednesday, August 7: According to Inslaw records, Casolarocalled the Hamiltons in the afternoon, and was put on hold. Before Hamiltoncould get free, he had hung up. At some time on that same day, Riconosciuto called Hamilton again to ask for the information about theJustice Department lawyer [Mike Abbell]. Hamilton called Casolaro, but he hadalready left for Martinsburg.
Thursday, August 8: Casolaro called Danielle Stalling and askedher to set up appointments for him the next week with a former police officer,now employed as a private investigator,to learn more about the Laotian warlord Kuhn Sa's proposed Golden Triangledrug trade.
Friday, August 9: By now Hamilton was starting to worry. I talk to Dannyeveryday," Hamilton said. "I had never [gone without speaking to himfor so long] before, so I called Bob Nichols in Los Angeles and asked whether hehad heard from Danny recently."
Nichols told Hamilton "Yes," he had spoken with Danny late Mondaynight [August 5th] and he had been "euphoric." Nichols told Hamiltonhe (Nichols) was taking off for Europe that evening.
It was at that point that Olga, Danny's housekeeper, received four or fivethreatening phone calls. The first was about 9 a.m., a man's voice, in goodEnglish, said, "I will cut his [Danny's] body and throw it to the sharks."Abouta half hour later, another call came in. "Drop dead," the man's voicesaid.
Saturday, August 10: At 12:30 that afternoon, a maid knocked on the door ofroom 517 at the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn. Nobody answered, so she used herpasskey to open the door; though it had both a security bolt and a chain lock onthe inside, neither one was attached. When she glanced into the bathroom, shesaw a lot of blood on the tile floor and screamed. Another hotel maid came intothe bathroom and saw a man's nude body lying in the bloodfilled tub. There wasblood not only on the tile floor but splattered up onto the wall above the tubas well. The police were called to the scene.
At 8:30 p.m. that night, unaware that Danny's body had been found, Olga, Danny'shousekeeper, returned to Casolaro's house to look for him. Thephone rang. A man's voice said, "You son of a bitch. You're dead." It was not until Monday, August 12, that authorities notified family and friendsthat Danny Casolaro was dead.
Had Danny in fact called Robert Booth Nichols on Monday, August 5th, andconfronted him about his relationship with Mike Abbell? Had he told Nichols heplanned to meet with FBI officials from Lexington, Kentucky? And what aboutFBI agent Thomas Gates, Nichols' antagonist? SPY magazine's article on DannyCasolaro indicated that he spoke with Gates threedays before his death, relating a conversation in which Nichols had warned himto abandon the investigation.
Riconosciuto later conceded that he had tried repeatedly toreach Hamilton and Casolaro between August 5 and 10th to warnthem NOT to mention Abbell or Rodriguez to Nichols, but it had been too late. Bill Hamilton told one investigator that he did NOT know WHY Riconosciuto wasinquiring about Mike Abbell - until AFTER Danny's death.
Bob Bickel's confirmation that Danny WAS trailing Mike Abbell in the lastdays before his death indicate that Danny may have unknowingly stepped into thelargest narcotics trafficking/intelligence operation the world.
******
Another indepth article came to my attention which further corroboratedDanny's investigation of Gilberto Rodriguez. "The Strange Death ofDanny Casolaro," by Ron Rosembaum in Vanity Fair's December1991 issue included an interview with Michael Riconosciuto. According to Rosenbaum, Danny's investigations were taking him into areas thatinvolved dangerous knowledge and dangerous characters. It was Danny's habit of"bouncing" Riconosciuto's stories off Robert Nichols that put him inperil, Riconosciuto told Rosenbaum. One of the things he reportedly "bounced"involved a major heroinrelated sting operation.
Another involved Riconosciuto's claim about an "effortby the Cali cocaine cartel to derail the extradition of an alleged Columbiankingpin called Gilberto."
Nichols "went ballistic," according to Riconosciuto,when Danny bounced the Gilberto (Rodriguez) matter off him. Riconosciuto saidhe tried to warn Danny. "I called from that day on it was on a lateMonday Tuesday, Wednesday, all the way through the weekend when they foundDanny [dead]," he said. "Every day I was calling the Hamiltons,asking if anybody had heard from Danny. And I was frantic."
Labeled by Rosenbaum as the "resident demon of the labyrinth," Riconosciuto said "Danny's theory was different from thetypical megaconspiracy theory. Danny was dealing with real people and realcrimes."
Rosenbaum asked Riconosciuto about the germ warfaretechnology he had found in Danny's notes. Riconosciuto admitted that he hadlearned about "horrible things" going on at the Cabazon Indianreservation but did not elaborate on the subject. Wrote Rosenbaum, "Thisis the labyrinth [that] Riconosciuto was leading Danny into the one he died in."
Just days before his death, Danny had planned to visit the reservation. In hisnotes were cryptic references to slowacting brain viruses like Mad CowDisease, which could be used against targeted peopleby slipping the virus into meat pies. Riconosciutotold Rosenbaum that Danny was "concerned" that he may have been atarget of this virus. "That was one of the reasons he [Danny] had such anobsession with this story. He felt he had been hit by these people."
Accordingly, Riconosciuto filled Danny's head withallegations of Robert Booth Nichols' sinister, international covertworldconnections. He painted a picture linking Nichols to organized crimesyndicates, the fearsome Japanese Yakuza, and various CIA andBritish intelligence plotsemanating from Nichols' friendship with "a legendary Bondish Brit knownas `Double Deuce' [Sir Denis Kendall]."
Riconosciuto said Nichols was the key to Danny's Octopus. But Danny was receiving warnings from Riconosciuto's counterpart as well. Robert Booth Nichols had flown to Washington D.C. from Puerto Rico to warn Dannyto stay away from Riconosciuto.
Danny's girlfriend, Wendy Weaver, had been present at one of the meetings at theFour Seasons Hotel bar when Nichols issued the warning: "You don't knowhow bad this guy Riconosciuto is ... he might not get youtoday, he might not get you next month. He might get you two years from now. If you say anything against him he will kill you."
Nichols repeated the warning several times, said Weaver. "At least fivetimes." Weaver described Nichols as "very charming, very handsome,"but said "it [the meeting] was a weird night, so weird."
Another friend of Danny's met Nichols at a luncheon at Clyde's in Tysons Cornerwhere Nichols allegedly informed them that he had just been asked to become "ministerof state security" on the island of Dominica. Reportedly, the island wasgoing to be transformed into a CIA base. The friend, who spoke toRosenbaum on condition of anonymity, said Nichols was "very slick, verycivilizedappearing" ... "oozing intrigue," but he added that hehad never witnessed a performance like the one that ensued.
After lunch Danny had pulled his friend aside and showed him a purported FBIwiretap summary on Nichols. The summary was part of FBI agent ThomasGates's affidavit in Nichols' slander suit against him. The summary linkedNichols to the Yakuza and to the Gambino crime family as a moneylaunderer.
Danny's friend had been shocked. "You just put me in a meeting with thisman and didn't tell me what the hell why didn't you tell me before?," heasked Danny. Danny said he wanted to see how Nichols would react. The friendtold Rosenbaum, "In other words, he gaffed me with a hook and tossed me inthe water to see if the Octopus would move!"
Danny HAD in fact been receiving death threats on the phone. One threatreported by his housekeeper, "You're dead, you son of a bitch," whichcame hours AFTER Danny's body had been found, ruled out Danny himself as apossible source of the threats. And his prophesy to his brother, Tony Casolaro,"If anything happens to me it won't be an accident," made itunmistakably clear that Danny did, indeed, feel threatened.
Nevertheless, Danny appeared upbeat to most of the people he talked to prior tohis death. Dr. Tony Casolaro, a specialist in pulmonarymedicine, told Vanity Fair that he didn't believe his brother committed suicidebecause Danny was so excited and upbeat about his investigation on that lastMonday when he saw him.
The autopsy examination of Danny's brain had revealed possible symptoms ofMultiple Schlerosis, but friends and family dismissed this as irrelevant becauseDanny had never complained of symptoms or, to their knowledge, known of thedisease, if he had it.
Tony was also troubled by a number of facts, one of which was Danny's currentpapers and files which he took to West Virginia were missing from his motelroom. His body had been embalmed even before family members were notified ofthe death, and the motel room had been commercially cleaned before any type ofinvestigation, other than a cursory look at the death scene by police, couldoccur.
In his Vanity Fair article, Ron Rosenbaum wrote that he had obtained one of Casolaro's surviving notebooks and found mentioned under the headingof August 6, four days before Danny's death, the name "Gilberto." It read: "Bill Hamilton August 6. MR ... also brought up`Gilberto.'" Rosenbaum did not speculate publicly who Gilberto mightbe, but it was obviously Gilberto Rodriguez, head of the Cali Cartel, at thattime deeply involved with Michael Abbell, formerly of the Department of Justice.
******
A dozen or so drafts of Casolaro's proposed manuscript along withnotes and phone bills had been sent to the Western Historical ManuscriptCollection at the University of Missouri by his brother, Dr. Tony Casolaro.TonyCasolaro had sent the material to the University because, at one time, the IRE(Investigative Reporters and Editors) Association, headquartered at theUniversity, had researched the fatal carbombing of reporter Don Bolles inArizona.
Bolles had been researching a mobconnected gold smuggling operation in thatstate. Through Tracy Barnett at IRE, I learned that a graduate student at theUniversity had been assigned to catalog all Danny's material for eventualinsertion into a data base. In contacting the graduate student, who by then(September 1994) worked for ABC in Houston, Texas, I learned that few if anyjournalists had inquired about the notes.
But, interestingly, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Zipperstein from LosAngeles, working for the Department of Justice, had requested copies of Danny'sNOTES, but declined Danny's phone records. The graduate student noted that thenotes and drafts of Danny's proposedmanuscript focused on a Cabal of intelligence people who, originallyconsisting of numerous names, were subsequently narrowed down to abouteight. One of those names was Glen Shockley. Shockley, of course, waslisted on the Board of Directors of F.I.D.C.O. along with Robert Booth Nichols.
Shockley was also a corporate partner in Meridian International Logistics,headed by Nichols. Shockley was also a CIAcontract employee (according to several sources) who allegedly "ran JoseLondono" of the Cali Cartel. This according to Riconosciuto'staped interview with government agents while negotiating for Witness Protection.
I purchased everything of any significance pertaining to Danny's writings anddocuments, including the FBI wire tap summaries which corroborated everything Ihad learned to date.
In reviewing the summaries, it became apparent that the FBI hadinadvertently stumbled onto a CIA drug trafficking operationwhich included high ranking La Cosa Nostra figures, the Gambino crime family andthe Japanese Yakuza.
One affidavit in support of an application to intercept wire communications overthe telephone listed names of those to be intercepted: Robert Booth Nichols, Eugene Giaquinto (then President of MCA CorportionEntertainment Division, and corporate partner with Nichols in MeridianInternational Logistics), Angelo Commito, Edward Sciandra, Michael DelGaizo, Joseph Garofalo, and others.
The purpose of the interceptions was to determine "source, type andquantity of narcotics/controlled substances, methods and means of delivery, andthe source of funding for purchasing of narcotics/controlled substances."
The intercepted conversations read like a "Who's Who" of organized crime. It was also apparent that Eugene Giaquinto enjoyed a specialrelationship with John Gotti.
******
Ann Klenk, a long time friend of Danny Casolaro's and formerassociate of Washington D.C. columnist Jack Anderson, held all his personalnotes which were not sent to the University. In a September 14, 1994 phoneinterview, she noted that the last time she talked to Danny, that last Mondaybefore his death, he told her he'd cracked the Inslaw case.
I asked her, "Do you think he resolved that?"
Ann responded, "Oh, yes. I KNOW he did. He TOLD me he did. He said,`Ann, I broke Inslaw.' And I said, `Geez, Danny that's great!' But, I neverasked him what he found because he was very despondent about it. He said, `Youcan have it. You and Jack [Anderson] can have the story. I don't even wantit.'"
Ann said Danny was disgusted and related their last conversation: "I said,`Danny, you worked on this [so long] and now you don't want it?' He said, `It'sjust a little piece of the puzzle anyway.' See, Inslaw led him into this,but Danny quickly became more involved with the drug aspects ... with the CIAaspects, with the Wackenhut aspects."
I said, "I know what you mean, because I followed the same trail."
******
Danny's proposed drafts and notes obtained from Western Historical ManuscriptCollection at University of Missouri revealed information never published inmainstream media. Typewritten and handwritten lists of contacts included namesand telephone numbers of Ted Gunderson, Raymond Lavas, Robert Nichols, PeterZokosky, Bob Bickel, Fahim Safar, Earl Brian, Peter Dale Scott, Art Welmus, JohnVanderwerker, Jack Blum, Dr. Harry Fair, Bill Hamilton, Bob Parry, Bill McCoy,and numerous others.
Most of Danny's drafts focused on the Southeast Asian heroin connection, CIA drug money used to finance the Contras, and the ability of terrorists to send missiles containing dangerous chemicals and biologicaldiseases into the U.S.
One typewritten draft, entitled, "Behold, A Pale Horse," described an "internationalcabal [in Southern California] whose freelance services covered parochialpolitical intrigue, espionage, sophisticated weapon technologies that includedbiotoxins,drug trafficking, money laundering and murder-for-hire." According to Danny, the cabal continues today, "its origins spawned thirtyyears ago in the shadow of the Cold War."
Casolaro's June - July (1991) phone bills told a story of theirown. Having followed Danny's investigative trail for three years, I had anentire directory of phone numbers relating to his inquiries. Most obvious wereDanny's numerous calls prior to his death to Robert Booth Nichols in LosAngeles. Most of the calls from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles lasted anaverage of one to two hours, invariably in the wee hours of the morning 1:50a.m., 12:36 a.m., 1:13 a.m., 12:18 a.m., etc.
It was also apparent that Danny was riding a seesaw with Nichols andRiconosciuto. He would talk to one, then the other, often onthe same day, back and forth for months. Then suddenly, he cut off Riconosciutoand his calls to Nichols increased in frequency.
Other phone numbers matched those of Ted Gunderson, Alan Boyak, a lawyer inUtah, Bo Gritz, Heinrich Rupp and Chuck Hayes, a self-professed (on the Internet)CIA operative. Danny often called Hayes immediately after he spokewith Nichols. Oddly, Hayes never came forward during the official investigationof Danny's death to disclose the content of those conversations.
******
Within six months of Casolaro's death, Riconosciutowas again attempting to trade information in exchange for entry into a WitnessProtection Program. But this time, instead of using Casolaro or Bill Hamilton,he was using me to make the contacts.
At Riconosciuto's request, I contacted a man whom I willidentify as N.B. at the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) in SanFrancisco. Michael had advised me to call this agent because the BATF was "TreasuryDepartment" as was FinCen.
I set up the phone meeting and Riconosciuto called the SanFrancisco BATF collect, as scheduled. N.B. listened attentively to Michael,then ran a check on him through the departmental computer system. Shortlythereafter, I received an unnerving phone call.
N.B. advised me in strong terms to "get out of this" while I stillcould. He said I would end up getting subpoenaed as a witness if I didn'tdiscontinue my investigation. He added that sometimes people got killed orcommitted suicide when they got involved with Michael Riconosciutoor Robert Booth Nichols.
N.B.'s computer inquiry had bounced back on him. His superior in the BATF hadbeen notified by someone from another agency he didn't say who who hadinstructed N.B. that he was to have NO further contact with Michael Riconosciutoor me.
When I related this conversation to Michael, he indicated no surprise, butimmediately wanted to be put back in touch with R.J. He needed someone in thegovernment with access to his files to verify his credibility and get thatinformation back to Tom Olmstead, his attorney. Regarding the computer inquiry,Riconosciuto explained as follows: "I know what'shappening here. Tell R.J. if he uses FOIMS, Field Office Information ManagementSystem, and if he leaves an audit trail, he's going to be exposed. There areall sorts of different levels of flags on my name. Whenever the computer gets ahit, the issuing agency is notified as to who made the request and from where itcame."
"Mike," I asked, "how can he get around that? I don't understand..."
"Listen, whenever there's a hit on one of those flags, whether it's a wantor [a] warrant, or whether it's simply an administrative interest, unbeknownstto the user who's making the request, his access is audited. Tell R.J. beforehe starts making inquiries, no matter how discreet he thinks they are, that heshould have someone totally uncoupled from him to enter into FOIMS."
"Alright."
"Now," Michael continued, "if he goes into NCIC or NADDIS, ah,NCIC is the least dangerous as far as making inquiries, because NADDIS can trackjust like FOIMS ..."
"Alright."
"Now, on NCIC there is a `nonelectric' filing on me and he can make therequest that way without alerting anyone. If he has trouble checking anythingout, tell him I can help him along."
"He can't call you at the jail. How can he get in touch with you?"
"Through my attorney. The minute he [R.J.] gets a line on me, ask him tonotify my attorney. Tell him he can check my attorney out through thegovernment. Tom has excellent records with the government."
"Alright."
"Explain to R.J. that I know PROMISE, I know FOIMS inside out. I helpeddevelop that internal tracking audit trail ..."
I had lost all hope of R.J. rescuing Michael Riconosciuto,and I think in his heart, Michael knew that too, but I passed the informationalong as requested. R.J. politely accepted the information as he always did,then I never heard from him again.
CHAPTER 7
Through one of Michael's contacts, I was able to obtain the corporate documentson F.I.D.C.O. Corporation (First Intercontinental Development Corporation). This formidable organization lead me straight to the head of The Octopus.TheBoard of Directors of FIDCO consisted of the following principles:
(1) Robert Maheu, Sr, Vice President, Director former FBI agent,former CEO of Howard Hughes Operations, senior consultant to Leisure Industries.
(2) Michael A. McManus, Director, Vice President and General Counsel toFIDCO former Assistant to the President [Reagan] of the United States atthe White House in Washington D.C.
(3) Robert Booth Nichols, Director, Sr. Vice President and Chairman ofInvestment Committee Chief Executive Officer of R.B.N. Companies,International, a holding company for manufacturing and development of hightechnology electronics, real estate development, construction and internationalfinance.
(4) George K. Pender, Director former Director of Pacific Ocean areaof Burns & Roe, Inc., an international engineering & constructioncorporation with active projects on all seven continents of the world. Seniorengineer consultant to Burns & Roe, Inc.
(5) Kenneth A. Roe, Director Chairman and President of Burns & Roe, Inc.,International engineers and Constructors, a family corporation owned by KennethRoe and family. Major current project of the company is the engineering designand construction of the U.S.A. Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor Plant in conjunctionwith Westinghouse Electric Corporation which is responsible for the nuclearsystem supply of steam. Construction value of present business backlog of Burns& Roe, Inc. is in excess of six billion U.S. dollar.
(6) Frances T. Fox, Vice President and Director former General Manager of L.A.International Airport, former Director of Aviation for Howard Hughes Nevadaoperations, now called Summa Corporation, City Manager of San Jose, California.
(7) Clint W. Murchison, Jr. Director Owner of the Dallas Cowboys NFLfootball team.
(8) William M. Pender, Director and Sr. Vice President licensed contractor,State of California.
(9) Glen R. Shockley, Director Consultant to Fortune 500 Companies inbusiness management. Internationally known as financial consultant in funding.
The list of directors was accompanied by a letter dated January 11, 1983 onFIDCO letterhead originating out of Santa Monica, California addressed to RobertBooth Nichols in Marina Del Rey, California. The letter, signed by George K.Pender, briefly referenced a copy of a resolution resulting from a meeting ofthe Board of Directors of FIDCO.
On April 13, 1983, Robert Booth Nichols wrote a letter to Joseph F. Preloznik inMadison, Wisconsin, outlining proposed arms projects, one of which was to builda two story building of approximately 7500 square feet with concrete walls andfloors to house the "R & D position." (I later found the R &D facility referenced in a 1981 Wackenhut Interoffice memorandum as a companionfacility to Wackenhut to be constructed on the Cabazon Indian reservation forthe assembly of shell casings, propellants, war heads, fuses, combustiblecartridge cases and other weapons systems).
Nichols wrote to Preloznik, "Should there be any questions with regard tomy credibility, verification can be made through F.I.D.C.O. I haveenclosed a copy of that appointment."
If in fact, F.I.D.C.O. was a vehicle of The Octopus, then the tentacles of itsBoard of Directors lead straight to the head. Clint Murchison, Jr. of Dallas,Texas was the son of Clint Murchison, Sr. who, according to Dick Russell, authorof the book, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," (pp. 521523) was cut fromthe same political cloth as H.L. Hunt.
Wrote Russell: "Back in 1951, after General Douglas MacArthur was relievedof his Korean command by President Truman, H.L. Hunt accompanied MacArthur on aflight to Texas for a speaking tour. Hunt and Murchison were the chieforganizers of the proMacArthur forces in Texas. They would always rememberthe general standing bareheaded in front of the Alamo, urging removal of the`burden of taxation' from enterprising men like themselves, charging that suchrestraints were imposed by `those who seek to convert us to a form ofsocialistic endeavor, leading directly to the path of Communist slavery.'"
According to Russell, Hunt went on to set up a MacArthurforpresidentheadquarters in Chicago, spending $150,000 of his own money on the general'sreluctant 1952 campaign, which eventually fell apart as MacArthur adopted thestrident rhetoric of the right wing.
"Still, connections were made," wrote Russell, "CharlesWilloughby, for example, was a regular part of the MacArthurHunt entourage andundoubtedly was acquainted with Murchison as well." Both [the Hunts andthe Murchisons] cultivated not only powerful people on the far right, but alsoJ. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, organized crime figures, and Lyndon Johnson,whose rise to power emanated directly from his friends in Texas oil.
"Like Hunt, Murchison was an ardent supporter of Senator JosephMcCarthy's anticommunist crusade. McCarthy came often to the exclusivehotel that Murchson opened in La Jolla, California, in the early 1950's. So didRichard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.
"In 1961, after Nixon had lost the presidential election to JFK theprevious year, Murchison sold Nixon a lot in Beverly Hills for only $35,000 a lot Murchison had financed through a Hoffa loan which Nixon sold twoyears later for $86,000.
When Hoover visited the (Murchison) Hotel Del Charro, as he did every summerbetween 1953 and 1959, Murchison picked up his tab. That amounted to about$19,000 of free vacations for the FBI Director over those years.
Whether Hoover knew it or not, almost 20 percent of the Murchison Oil LeaseCompany in Oklahoma was then owned by Gerardo Catena, chief lieutenant to theGenovese crime family.
By the autumn of 1963, a major scandal was brewing around Bobby Baker, whom VicePresident Lyndon Johnson had made secretary of the Senate Democrats in 1955,when LBJ was majority leader. LBJ called Baker "my strong right arm, thelast man I see at night, the first I see in the morning."
On October 8, 1963 Baker was forced to resign, as a Senate investigation of hisoutside business activities began producing sensational testimony on numerousquestionable deals. "Baker's deals were tightly interwoven with theMurchison family and the Mob," wrote Dick Russell. "What first attracted the attention of Senateinvestigators was a lawsuit brought against Baker in 1963 by his associates in avending company, alleging that he failed to live up to certain bargains. Thoseassociates were, for the most part, Las Vegas gamblers; one of them, EdwardLevinson, was a lieutenant of Florida mobster Meyer Lansky, whose Fremont Hotelin Vegas was financed through a Hoffa loan.
"Baker, it later turned out, did considerable business with the Mob in LasVegas, Chicago, Louisiana, and the Caribbean. Through Baker, Levinson had alsogotten to know Clint Murchison."
"Clint Murchison, Jr. [listed on the Board of Directors of FIDCO] triedto persuade the Senate Rules Committee in 1964 that his ownreal estate dealingswith Jimmy Hoffa in Florida were `hardly relevant' to the Baker investigation."
Robert Maheu (Senior Vice President and Director of F.I.D.C.O.), wasalso mentioned in Russell's book, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," (pp.190). Wrote Russell: "Back in 1960, with then vice president Richard Nixonserving as the White House's liaison to the CIA's Cuban operations,the CIA had initiated its long series of assassination attemptsagainst Castro. The `cutouts' in the operation started with Las Vegasbillionaire Howard Hughes's righthand man, Robert Maheu, who got intouch with organizedcrime leaders Sam Giancana, JohnnyRosselli, and Santos Trafficante, Jr. They in turn enlisted the directassistance of Cuban exiles ..."
Throughout my conversations with Michael Riconosciuto thenames of Robert Booth Nichols, George Pender, Glenn Shockley and Michael McManus(other directors of F.I.D.C.O.) cropped up repeatedly, but I found fewreferences to them in any published books or magazines. Riconosciuto oftenstated that George Pender and Glenn Shockley were CIAofficials, which I later corroborated through Peter Zokosky, a partner of RobertBooth Nichols's.
In August, 1994, I did, however, manage to obtain three significant letters withthe signatures of Michael A. McManus and George Pender on them.
The following letters on F.I.D.C.O. confirm its presence in Lebanon.
Letter No. 1 Written on White House letterhead stationary, dated,June 29, 1983, from Michael A. McManus, Assistant to the President (Reagan)to George K. Pender in Santa Monica, California:
"Dear George: It was good to see you again. I appreciate the update youand your associates gave me concerning the status of your efforts in therebuilding of Lebanon.
"Without question FIDCO seems to have a considerable role to offerparticularly in the massive financial participation being made available to thegovernment of Lebanon.
"As you are aware, the United States government is providing financial aid. We are very interested in the success of the rebuilding effort in Lebanon. Iwill appreciate your continuing to keep me posted. Best personal regards.Sincerely, Michael A. McManus, Assistant to the President."
It is interesting to note that in 1982, one year before the above letter waswritten, Israel invaded Lebanon in a bid to crush the PLO strongholds there andinstall the Gamayel family in power. At that time TelAviv was supporting theultraright Christian Phalange militia . It was the Christian Phalangistmilitia which first brought Lebanon into the heroin trade. And the powerfulChristian Gamayel family which led the way in turning to outside forces formoney, guns and political support. Foremost among those sources was theinternational heroin trafficking network.
This according to Bill Weinberg, editor of High Times magazine, who wrote theindepth article, "The Syrian Connection" in March 1993. Weinberg alsonoted that as far back as 1955, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings learnedthat Sami el Khouri, the Gamayel's chief of finances, was importing rawTurkish opium into Lebanon, where it was processed into heroin and thenshipped to Sicily for reexport throughout America and Europe.
El Khouri controlled the Gamayel family's shipping lines, trading, truckingand air freight companies. El Khouri's machine was the Lebanese wing of theFrench Connection the wing that continued to do business with the Siciliansin a bid to propel the Gamayel family to power.
After the Israeli invasion, the Lebanese Parliament elected to thepresidency Bechir Gamayel who had long been on the CIApayroll. But before he could take office, Bashir was killed by an assassinsbomb, and Bechir's brother, Amin, was installed as president.
The following letter from George Pender, President of FIDCO, to President AminGamayel in Beirut is printed in its entirety here.
Letter No. 2 Written on F.I.D.C.O. letterhead stationary, dated July 12, 1983,from George K. Pender, President of FIDCO, to President Amin Gamayel,Presidential Palace, Beirut, Lebanon.:
"Dear Mr. President: I had visited Beirut in February and May, 1983 todiscuss FIDCO participation in the redevelopment of Lebanon. These meetingswere held with the Chamouns, Maurice Ghanem and Mourad Baroudy. Ofparticular interest is the fact that FIDCO offered to arrange the financing ofprojects considered, provided they were in the government sector. Unfortunately, the response, to date, is dragging and a golden opportunity forLebanon is slowly dying.
"I had made no effort to see you at that time as I thought it more prudentto delay until I had something more tangible to present. I expressed specificinterest in the rebuilding of Damour and Alkhyam. FIDCO has presented theseprojects to an international Trust with whom we have a close relationship, andwe are very confident that we can arrange the funding under InternationalChamber of Commerce format, provided FIDCO can negotiate turnkey contracts onboth projects. We are ready, willing and able to proceed immediately on thisbasis.
"I understand you will be at the White House on July 22nd. Would it bepossible for me to meet with you in Washington, D.C. on July 21st briefly sothat I may personally present our interest in Lebanon? As per copy of attachedletter, the White House is actively interested in our efforts.
"For your personal information, I was a good friend of Bechir. I was withhim in Beirut in 1976 when the Syrian Army came in to police. When he latervisited the United States on a speaking tour, my wife and I went to Framingham,Massachusetts to meet with him. I miss him tremendously.
"I would appreciate your reply as soon as possible. You can also reach mevia telex 652483 RBN [Robert Booth Nichols] ASSOCS LSA. Thank you for yourtime and consideration. Sincerely yours, George K. Pender."
I cannot stress enough the importance of this letter From George Pender to AminGamayel. In the very first paragraph of Pender's letter he noted that "MauriceGhanem" participated in the meetings held in Beirut in May 1983 todiscuss F.I.D.C.O.'s participation in the redevelopment of Lebanon.
Michael Riconosciuto had stated (on page 40 ofthis manuscript) that he had worked directly under "Maurice Ganem" andGeorge Pender in Lebanon! Riconosciuto had explained that Maurice hada "relative, either a brother or a cousin, who was a senior DEA officialwith Michael Hurley."
Then, in a 1993 book entitled, "Trail of the Octopus" by DonaldGoddard with Lester Coleman, on page 152, I stumbled across the name of FredGanem in the following context: "The number of DEAcontrolleddeliveries of heroin down the pipeline to the United States had increasednoticeably during the winter as a result of Fred Ganem's special knowledge ofthe Lebanese communities in Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles."
This was independent corroboration of a link between F.I.D.C.O. (George Penderand Michael McManus) and the very same heroin operation in Nicosia, Cypruswhich Riconosciutohad described in detail to me in December 1991!
It also directly connected George Pender with Michael T. Hurley. Goddard andColeman recounted how "members of the Jafaar clan and other DEA courierswould arrive at Larnaca with suitcases full of highgrade heroin, white andcrystal, and be met off the boat ... by officers of the Cypriot PoliceNarcotics Squad, who then drove them up to the Euramae office in Nicosia."Inhis interview with R.J. (page 37), Riconosciuto hadmaintained that "F.I.D.C.O. had a companion company called Euramae Trading..." Three years later, "Trail of the Octopus,"described Euramae as such: "Coleman was given a desk at the EuramaeTrading Company., Ltd., a DEA/CIA `front' newly set up by theCypriot Police Narcotics Squad in a luxury threebedroomed penthouse apartmentdown the street from the US Embassy. It gave him the creeps from the start.
"Intended as a place where DEA and CIA agents could meetunobserved with informants and clients, as a message drop for CIA armsdealers supplying Iraq and the Afghan rebels, as a waiting room for DEA CI'sand couriers from Lebanon, and as a transit point, not just for heroin,but for cash, documents and bootleg computer software moving to and fro alongthe BeirutNicosiaUS pipeline, Eurame, as run by ElJorr, was more like a lowlifesocial club than a secret intelligence centre." Coleman had complained toHurley, but Hurley had just brushed it aside.
It is noteworthy that George Pender listed Robert Booth Nichols's "telex"number at the bottom of his letter to Lebanon President Amin Gamayel. During that time span, Nichols and Pender (when they weren't in Lebanon) wereoperating a NSC listening post from a condo at Marina Del Rey. It was allegedly the U.S. end of the Nicosia, Cyprus operation. MichaelRiconosciuto, Ted Gunderson and Allan Boyak, an attorneyrepresenting Riconosciuto, all had stories to tell about apartment number "007." More on this in a moment. Next, was the Lebanese response to George Pender'saforementioned letter (No.2).
Letter No. 3 Written on Arab Bank Limited letterhead, dated November 23, 1983,from Abdul Majeed Shoman, Chairman/General Manager of Arab Bank Limited inAmman, Jordan to George K. Pender in Santa Monica, California:
"Dear Mr. Pender: Mr. Ahmad has talked to me about the fund to reconstructLebanon and we the Arab Bank together with a group of other banks will be gladto cooperate with you concerning this respect.
"We shall discuss, in future, how this cooperation will be made and on whatconditions and plans.
"You have mentioned in your letter to Mr. Ahmad on September 27th thatthis fund amounts to US$ three billion or more. There is no problem to takecare of this by the Arab Bank and the other group of banks as stated above. Theterms and conditions will be discussed with you provided the condition is clearin Lebanon and subject to the approval and counter guarantees of the LebaneseAuthority. Yours sincerely, Abdul Majeed Shoman, Chairman/General Manager."
It is unlikely any "reconstruction" (funded by F.I.D.C.O.) evertook place in Lebanon. Only a Congressional investigation could determine whatthe US$three billion dollars was actually used for.
The next document, pertaining to Robert Booth Nichols, Senior Vice President ofF.I.D.C.O., originated from an interview between Jeffrey Steinberg, a writer forExecutive Intelligence Review, and Allan Boyak, an attorney in Utah whomMichael Riconosciuto contacted immediately after his arrestin Washington state.
Michael T. Hurley had allegedly been transferred from Nicosia, Cyprus to DEA inWashington state shortly before Michael's arrest. Riconosciuto'sarrest had taken place with a week after signing the Inslaw affidavit.
It is noteworthy that Danny Casolaroalso contacted and interviewed Allan Boyak shortly before his death. According to Ted Gunderson and others who knew Danny, Boyak met with Casolaro inWashington D.C. and provided him with a copy of a transcript of the meetingbetween himself (Boyak), Riconosciuto, and Ted Gunderson, whoat that time was Riconosciuto's investigator.
I later obtained the same transcript from Gunderson's live-in partner, J.M., andhave related the contents of that explosive transcript in Chapter 13.
Meanwhile, the following "Memorandum for the File," dated 62591, waswritten by Steinberg after his interview with Boyak: (Excerpted) "I met atlength Saturday, June 22, 1991 with Allan Boyak, an attorney from Utah who isrepresenting Michael Riconosciuto in his pending drug case. Boyak is not the lead attorney and will not apparently be making courtappearances in the case.
"Boyak recounted the following personal background information: He was inthe U.S. Army in Special Forces and apparently did some contract work for theCIA during the 1960's and early 1970's. At some point in the early70's, he worked briefly for the Drug Enforcement Administration (or itsantecedent agency), being stationed in California.
"Boyak had some falling out with the DEA and left the government servicealtogether, entering law school. While in law school,Boyak became friendly with Jim Nichols, a classmate. Nichols told him thathe had a brother who was heavily involved in organized crime and had beendisowned by his family.
"Once out of law school, Boyak joined a Hollywood law firm and becameinvolved in criminal defense work, representing a number of well placed WestCoast drug traffickers. At some point, Boyak moved to Utah (he is a practicingMormon), while retaining his California law practice on a parttime basis.
"In addition to his o.c. [organized crime] clientel, Boyak also maintainedcontacts and apparently did some legal work for some of his old buddies from hisGreen Beret and CIA days. One such pal was Art Suchesk, who ran a CIAproprietary company called Hoffman Electronics.
" ... At some point in the late 1970's, one of Boyak's clients, a Mormonold boy named Cap Kressop, who was a technical wizard, was approached by RobertNichols and asked to manufacture a prototype laser site for a rifle. Kressopwas offered a $200,000 contract for the job but he became suspicious whenNichols wanted to pay him in cash.
"Boyak contacted Nichols at his Marina Del Rey, California home/office[apartment "007"] and the two had a lengthy meeting there. Boyack's description of that meeting is that it was continuously interrupted bytelephone calls and telex messages. Boyak came away convinced thatNichols was involved in large scale illegal drug operations.
"After consulting with one of his close friends from Green Beret days, thenan assistant U.S. Attorney named Dexter Leitenen (now the Miami U.S. Attorney),Boyak went to the Los Angeles FBI office with the suspicions about Nichols'activities.
"The FBI background check [conducted by Ted Gunderson] on Robert BoothNichols (born 1943 or 1944 he couldn't remember for sure) revealed that he was`squeeky clean.' In fact, he had a Class I machine gun license.
"Boyak did discover, however, that one of the people Nichols referenced asa business associate and personal friend, Harold Okimoto, was believed bysome of his sources to be a top Japanese organized crime figure based in Hawaii. Okimoto was described as a top agent in the Yakuza overseas.
"Over the next two year period, after the L.A. FBI had dropped any interestin the Nichols matter, Boyack's friend, [Arthur] Suchesk, repeatedly raninto Nichols in such places as Singapore, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Sucheskwas based out of Zurich, Switzerland during this period, apparently stilldoing his front man work for the CIA.
"Boyak says that information developed during this period, through Sucheskand others, [indicated] that Nichols was indeed a bigtime drug dealer whowas very well insulated from any U.S. law enforcement problems. Nicholsoperated exclusively overseas. Whenever he came to the United States, he neverengaged in any illegal activities.
"However, Boyak described Nichols' rum importing business as a coverfor bigtime heroin trafficking from the Golden Triangle. Nicholswas also named as `Mr. Big', according to Boyak, in the Medellin Cartel, in drugprosecutions in Utah and Los Angeles.
"Three to four years ago, Boyack received an out of the blue telephone callfrom Michael Riconosciuto. Michael identified himself as aformer employee of Robert Nichols. He also referenced Ted Gunderson as a`mutual friend.' Boyak had only met Ted once very briefly when he was pressingthe L.A. FBI to look into the Nichols dope suspicions ..."
" ... Then in April 1991, Boyak received a phone call from Ted Gunderson,informing him that `Michael was in trouble. He was caught in a governmentframeup.'
"Boyak returned to his background profile of Bob Nichols, parts of whichwere apparently provided by Bob's estranged brother, Jim Nichols. It seems thatas a young man, Robert Nichols wound up in Hawii functioning as a hitman forthe Tongs. He was `adopted' as the Yakuza godson of Harold Okimoto, a67yearold car dealer in Hawaii.
"Nichols grew up to be a big business front man for the Far Eastsyndicate. He reportedly laundered between $50200 million for FerdinandMarcos. He now owns an estate in Hawaii, a feudal castle outside of Milan,Italy and the referenced Marina Del Ray home in California.
"Nichols has an office in Zurich. At one point, he was reportedlyinvolved in the smuggling of China White heroin into Mexico where it wastreated to look like the Mexican brown heroin which was more popular at thetime.
"It should be emphasized that all of this information about Robert Nicholscomes exclusively from Allan Boyak. None of it has yet been independentlycorroborated to my knowledge. Bill Hamilton and some other people involved intracking the Inslaw story have all spoken to [Robert] Nichols and report that hehas been straightforward with them and has provided leads and documents re:Michael Riconosciuto.
"Nichols is listed on the board of directors of First IntercontinentalDevelopment Corporation (FIDCO) along with George Pender and several officialsof the Howard Hughes linked Suma Corporation."
One of the most surprising, and disturbing, documents I found in MichaelRiconosciuto's hidden files (see Chapter 9) was an envelopewith a notation on it, handwritten and signed by Ted Gunderson, which read asfollows:
"Michael: Raymond [Lavas] is arriving at LAX, 7:55 p.m., Air Canadavia flight 793 from Toronto. Will have to go through Customs. This will giveus another member for our drug/arms operation. Only problem [is] Raymond willprobably be using instead of selling. Sorry I didn't get to D.A. office. Itried to call, but no answer. By the time I fought the traffic to the bank anddid my banking, it was too late Will be home tonight (818) 8806238. T.G."
Raymond Lavas was Ted Gunderson's forensic expert when he worked for the FBI. Lavas was in constant contact with Bobby Riconosciuto afterMichael was incarcerated. In fact, everyone was watching Michael and Bobby veryclosely.
CHAPTER 8
In March, 1993, two years after Michael Riconosciutohad attempted to trade information on the F.I.D.C.O./Euramae drug/intelligenceoperation in Lebanon to the government, the aforementioned magazine articleprinted in High Times magazine by Bill Weinberg, entitled, "The SyrianConnection," exposed CIA penetration into the BekaaValley drug trade in Lebanon.
Essentially, this article validated much of Riconosciuto'searlier information. The following are some excerpts:
" ... Many of Lebanon's armed factions depend on the international drugtrade for funds," wrote Weinberg. "Each paramilitary groupcontrols its own port in or around Beirut which serves as a transfer point fordrugs on the way out of Europe and America and weaponry on the way in from theinternational market. Whoever holds the fertile Bekaa [Valley] holds the ticketto power. As the war escalated in the late 1970's, hashish, the traditionalmainstay of the Bekaa, started to be replaced by the more lucrative heroin. Marijuana fields were converted to opium fields, hashish production compoundsconverted to heroin labs."
Heroin production exploded in the Bekaa Valley under the Syrian occupation. However, the Syrian occupation forces didn't touch the drugs, but "profitedfrom the trade and protected it." It was estimated that up to $2 billionin protection money was paid annually by dope plantation operators to Syrianoccupation forces.
DEA official Felix Jimenez told a reporter in 1990 that the Syrianoccupation received $10,000 per kilogram of Bekaa heroin. With the valleyproducing over 20,000 pounds a year, that was a lot of money.
Bekaa also became a center for processing Columbian cartel cocaine forreexport to European markets.
In 1988, two Syrians arrested with large quantities of heroin and coke in Milan[Italy] claimed to be working for a Syrian colonel in Bekaa. Prior to DesertStorm, Syria's president Hafez Assad and Iraq's Saddam Hussein were rivalfactions in the Arab nationalist Ba'ath Party. Syria was the only Arab nationto back Iran in the long and brutal war against Iraq in the 1980's. So whenPresident George Bush invited Syria to join the Arab coalition against Saddamafter Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Assad accepted.
After Desert Storm, Assad closed ranks with the White House and even softenedhis stand against Israel. President Bush and Secretary of State James Bakerpeddled a postwar peace plan for the region and Syria and Israel were encouragedto recognize each others' Lebanese occupation zones.
Under a 1990 accord, Christians and Muslims were finally granted equalrepresentation, officially bringing the civil war to an end. A new SyriabackedMuslimled government came to power. Under the accord, Syria maintainedcontrol of the Bekaa Valley. Among the areas still under Syrian control werethe notorious drug ports north of Beirut.
High Times maintained that there were long standing backchannel relationsbetween Washington D.C. and Damascus. According to a 1987 Pentagon memo leakedto the Chicago paper, In These Times, Lt. Col. Oliver North was personallynotified that Syrian intelligence in Lebanon was willing to negotiate with theWhite House for release of the hostages held by Lebanese terrorists.
The Washington Jewish Week reported that Bush himself had made secret visits toDamascus for hostage negotiations. But there were other reasons for the U.S. tobe in Lebanon. In 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Scotland, Pan Amhired the private investigative firm of Interfor to look into the bombing. Theowner, Juval Aviv, was reportedly a former Mossad agent.
Interfor maintained that the Syrianbacked Popular Front for the Liberation ofPalestineGeneral Command (PFLPGC) was behind the bombing. The PFLPGC had beenable to get their bomb on board the 747 because the flight was part of aheroin smuggling route run by a drug trafficking ring connected to the Syrianregime and protected by both the U.S. DEA and the CIA.
Interfor claimed the ring was overseen by Syrian kingpin Monzer AlKassar oftenknown as the world's biggest arms dealer. The CIA was protecting the AlKassar operation because he wascooperating with efforts to free U.S. hostages in Lebanon.
Reporter Bill Weinberg added that "the CIA and DEA had apparentlyboth instructed Germany's internal intelligence agency, the BKA, to allowcertain suitcases to pass uninspected onto USbound flights at the Frankfortairport, where Flight 103 originated."
Apparently, unknown to anyone except the PFLPGC and AlKassar,a suitcase which was supposed to be full of the usual heroin was covertlysubstituted with a suitcase full of explosives.
A London Times news article, dated July 22, 1991, entitled, "US DrugsSting Gave Pan Am Bomber Cover," noted that the DEA admitted that theprotection program had existed. The explanation for this operation, whichwas codenamed Khourah, was provided by Ronald Caffrey, acting assistantadministrator of the operational division of the DEA. In a U.S. governmentsubmission, dated March 20, 1991, Caffrey said the drug operation was a "controlleddelivery."
According to Caffrey, in a controlled delivery, a law enforcement agencypermits and monitors shipments of contraband, including drugs, to move from asource or transit location to its intended destination. Use of this techniqueis sometimes essential to enable law enforcement agencies to identify and arresthighranking members of trafficking organizations, rather than simply arrest lowlevel couriers.
Pan Am argued in court that it had been the pawn of an internationalintelligence operation, but still lost the case and was forced into bankruptcy.
In 1990, when the White House started to woo Syria as a partner in the Alliedcoalition, blame for the Pan Am bombing suddenly shifted from Assad's Syria toQaddafi's Libya, and that is pretty much where it stands today.
Meanwhile, AlKassar was alleged to have provided Oliver North with drugprofits to purchase arms for the Nicaraguan Contras. The U.S. Tower Commission probe into Irangate revealed that AlKassar hadbeen paid $1.2 million by Oliver North's coconspirator General Richard Secord tomove weapons from Israel to the Contras.
In her book "October Surprise," former Reagan White House aideBarbara Honegger alleged that AlKassar's heroin smuggling network in Italy wasused to launder NATO arms stocks for diversion to Iran with the help of corruptItalian intelligence officials linked to the secretive fascist Masoniclodge, P2.
It is noteworthy that AlKassar was reported to hold large tracts of land inthe Bekaa Valley. The PFLPGC also has camps in the Bekaa which were the targetof Israeli air strikes in 1989.
******
The U.S. government's presence in Lebanon is not to be taken lightly accordingto Lester Coleman, a selfemployed freelance writer, editor and securityconsultant who once moonlighted as a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) covertintelligence officer when he was called to serve. Coleman, age 47, told theLondon Times that for six years he worked as an intelligence officer with thesecret unit, Middle East Collection 10 (MC10) in Cyprus, running a network ofagents in Beirut whose mission was to find American hostages held by extremists.
Coleman was paid in travelers checks sent from the Luxembourg branch of the nowcollapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). Two senior MC10members, Mathew Kevin Gannon and Major Charles Dennis McKee, had been on PanAmflight 103 and had just returned from a mission in Beirut.
Coleman explained that the DEA, with the narcotics squad of the Cypriotnational police, the German BKA police and British customs, ran a "drugsting operation" through Cyprus and airports in Europe, includingFrankfurt.
The operation involved delivering heroin from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon tothe United States; the operation was codenamed "Khourah." Colemanmaintained that Pan Am Flight 103 was being used by the DEA as a "controlleddelivery" flight.
After the explosion, the Beirut end of MC10 had obviously been "blown." There were five key members of the MC10 cell in Cyprus and Beirut, one of whomwas Lester Coleman. Another was Werner Tony Asmar, a German Lebanese,who was killed in a bomb explosion at his office in east Beirut on May 26, 1988.
Another member of MC10 was Charlie Frezeli, a Lebanese army officer, who wasshot dead at his home in east Beirut in November 1989. When Asmar was killed,the DIA ordered Coleman home.
Danny Casolaro had contacted Coleman in Sweden onAugust 3, 1991, seven days before his death in Martinsburg, West Virgnia. They talked about the sale of the PROMISE software by the U.S. Government toforeign governments, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI),and the IranContra scandal.
After Coleman learned of Danny's death on August 10th, 1991, he provided Inslawpresident Bill Hamilton with an affidavit in October 1991. That affidavitread as follows:
"Affidavit of Lester K. Coleman, being duly sworn, do hereby state asfollows:
"(1) I am currently selfemployed as a freelance writer, editor, andsecurity consultant. I am a United States citizen and am temporarily outside ofthe United States.
"(2) In November 1984, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) offered me aposition in human intelligence operations in the Middle East. I was raised inthe Middle East, where I lived in Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia. I speak threedialects of Arabic and some Farsi. I accepted the position and receivedtraining from the DIA. I was assigned to a Middle East intelligence unit.
"(3) Between February and September 1987, I was seconded by DIA to theDrug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Nicosia, Cyprus, reporting to the DEACountry Attache, Michael T. Hurley.
"(4) After a cover assignment in the United States, I was again secondedto the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, in early 1988.
"(5) During April and May 1988, I worked in the office of Euramae TradingCompany, Ltd. in Nicosia, Cyprus, a DEA proprietary company. On or about May29, 1988, because of my concern about poor security in the DEA operation inCyprus, I returned to the United States, having previously obtained theconcurrence of DIA.
"(6) During my two stints as a DIA covert intelligence officerseconded to the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, I became aware of the fact that DEA wasusing its proprietary company, Euramae Trading Company, Ltd. to sell computersoftware called PROMISE or PROMIS to the drug abuse control agencies of variouscountries in the Middle East, including Cyprus, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait andTurkey.
"(7) I personally witnessed the unpacking at the Nicosia, Cyprus,Police Force Narcotics Squad of boxes containing reels of computer tapes andcomputer hardware. The boxes bore the name and red logo of a Canadiancorporation with the words `PROMISE' or `PROMIS' and `Ltd' in the company name.
"(8) The DEA objective in inducing the implementation of thiscomputerized PROMIS[E] system in the drug abuse control agencies of the MiddleEast countries was to augment the drug control resources available to the UnitedStates Government by making it possible for the United States Government toaccess sensitive drug control law enforcement and intelligence files of theseMiddle East governments.
"(9) It is also my understanding that thirdparty funds were generally madeavailable for the purchase of these computer software and hardware systems. Onethirdparty funding source was the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control inVienna, Austria.
"(10) As DEA Country Attache for Cyprus, Michael T. Hurley had overallresponsibility for both the Euramae Trading Company, Ltd. and its initiative tosell PROMIS[E] computer systems to Middle East countries for drug abuse control.
"(11) In 1990, DEA reassigned Hurley to a DEA intelligence position inWashington State.
"(12) I became aware in 1991 that Michael Riconosciuto,known to me as a longtime CIA asset, was arrested inWashington State by DEA for the manufacturing of illegal chemical drugs. I hadalso become aware of the fact that Riconosciuto had made a sworn statement,prior to his arrest, about his participation in a covert U.S. intelligenceinitiative to sell Inslaw's PROMISE software to foreign governments.
"(13) In light of Hurley's personal involvement in the U.S. Government'scovert intelligence initiative to sell PROMIS[E] software to foreign governmentsand his reassignment to a DEA intelligence position in Washington State inadvance of the DEA's arrest of Riconosciuto, the arrest ofRiconosciuto should be regarded as suspect. I do not believe that Hurley'sposting to a drug intelligence position in Washington State in advance ofRiconosciuto's arrest on drug charges is merely coincidental. Rather, theprobability is that Hurley was reassigned to Washington State to manufacture acase against Riconosciuto in order to prevent Riconosciuto from becoming acredible witness about the U.S. Government's covert sale of the PROMIS softwareto foreign governments.
"(14) The investigative journalist Danny Casolarocontacted me in Europe on August 3, 1991. Mr. Casolaro had leads and hardinformation about things that I know about, including Department of Justicegroups operating overseas, the sale of PROMIS[E] software by the U.S.Government to foreign governments, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International(BCCI), and the IranContra scandal. I subsequently learned of Mr.Casolaro's death in Martinsburg, West Virginia, one week later, on August 10,1991. I contacted Inslaw in October 1991, after learning about Mr.Casolaro's death under suspicious circumstances."
CHAPTER 9
Village Voice magazine ran an article entitled, "The Last Days of DannyCasolaro," by James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan on October 15,1991 which gave a brief profile of Michael Riconosciuto'sbackground:
"The 44yearold Riconosciuto is to put it mildly acolorful character, wilder than anything in `The Falcon and the Snowman.' Hewas a gifted child. When he was just 10 years old, Michael wired his parents'neighborhood with a working, private telephone system that undercut Ma Bell; inthe eighth grade, he won a science fair with a model for a threedimensionalsonar system. By the time he was a teenager, he had won so many science fairswith exhibits of laser technology that he was invited to be a summer researchassistant at Stanford's [University] prestigious Cooper Vaper Laser Laboratory. Dr. Arthur Schalow, a Nobel laureate, remembered him: `You don't forget a16yearold youngster who shows up with his own argon laser,' he told Casolaro."
******
Bobby Riconosciuto lived with Michael Riconosciuto at thetime of his arrest in Washington state. Immediately upon learning of hisarrest, she had fled to California with her four children, the youngest ofwhich, Elizabeth, had been fathered by Michael.
Bobby was well situated in an exclusive suite at the Embassy Suites Hotel inOrange County, California. Her suite contained a living room and baroverlooking lush indoor tropical gardens and water fountains, marble walkwaysover bridgecovered ponds and a gazebo where free breakfasts were cooked andserved to order.
Within the room, she had at her disposal office equipment, phones in every room,answering machines, room service and anything else she needed for herself andher children. Patrick Moriarty, Marshall Riconosciuto'sbusiness partner of 40 years, was paying the bills.
Moriarty and the Riconosciutos, father and son, had once owned HerculesResearch Corporation together in Hercules, California. An old Contra CostaCounty newspaper article, dating back to April, 1981, gave the story ofHercules. The subheading of the article pretty much said it all, "DeviceCould Make Hercules a Silicon Valley."
In 1981, Hercules had developed a small electronic power supply the size of atissue box, designed to specifically feed 30,000 volts of electricity to anotherdevice, a METC (Modular Energy Transfer Catalyzer) unit, that would cut theheating and cooling time in food processing and of making glass, metal and otherproducts by 40 percent.
The METC unit, patented by Interprobe of Chicago, worked by electrostaticallyexciting air molecules by moving them through a charged field. This removed aboundary layer of molecules that inhibited the exchange of thermal energy. Hercules' highvoltage power supply was essential to the application ofInterprobe's METC unit, so both companies were in the process of working out amerger in order to market both technologies as a complete system.
Admiral Henry Rankin, vice president of Interprobe, was a longtime familyfriend, and was very enthuiastic about incorporating the Hercules power packwith Interprobe's high voltage electrostatic technology.
Patrick Moriarty and Marshall Riconosciuto had fundedresearch for 15 years and spent about $1 million of their own money on theproject.
By 1983, things were not looking so good for Patrick Moriarty. The Los AngelesTimes newspaper reported in a series of articles that "fireworks magnate W.Patrick Moriarty, his business and associates spent nearly half a milliondollars in the last three years to influence government decisions throughoutCalifornia."
Moriarty's relationships with several key state legislators and his campaigncontributions to elected officials from Anaheim to Sacramento had made him apowerful force in state and local politics. His association with the notoriousRobert Ferrante, head of Consolidated Savings and Loan which failed in 1985, andwho was the subject of a disorganized, onagain offagain FBI investigation, waswritten up in the book, "Inside Job," by (Mary Frick?).
Patrick Moriarty was described as "the manufacturer of Red Devil fireworks,who founded the Bank of Irvine. The bank failed in 1984, the victim of fraudand mismanagement, according to regulators." In 1985, Moriarty pleadedguilty to mail fraud in a case that became the biggest political scandal inCalifornia in 30 years. Over 10 prominent politicians, including one statesenator, were indicted for taking bribes from Moriarty.
Though I'd spoken with her on the phone numerous times, I first met BobbyRiconosciuto facetoface on January 15th, 1992. On the day Ivisited her hotel suite, I hauled my Mita copy machine on a cart up to her roomand we talked and made copies of documents all morning. Bobby was young, boxomand attractive in a natural, mother earth sort of way. Her long blond hair hungloosely around her shoulders, she wore no makeup, and her nose and mouth had animpish upturn that made her appear to be smiling even when she was not.
We became friends as the day progressed. Bobby confided that some of the moresensitive material was stored at Michael's hidden trailer in Trona, California.
While working at Wackenhut, Michael had anticipated a future need to have ahiding place for himself and his files in the event that things got out ofcontrol. Bobby, who had met Michael in Washington state after he leftWackenhut, had been instructed by Michael to stay away from the trailer in caseshe was being surveillanced.
The files and computer equipment stored there were Michael's last ace in thehole. Nevertheless, Bobby was frustrated by the slow progress of Michael's courtdefense, by R.J.'s lack of response to Michael's request for Witness Protection- and she had been barraged by reporters who wanted documented proof ofMichael's statements.
I offered to drive her out to Trona, near Death Valley, to retrieve Michael'sfiles and ultimately, she acquiesced. We arrived at the isolated trailer atdusk and began sorting through documents that could substantiate Michael's claimthat he worked for the government.
The electricity had been shut off and as it became dark, we were forced to useflashlights. Bobby was terrified that we might get caught in that Godforsakenplace. The children were cold and tired, and from sheer exhaustion, she finallyoffered to turn all the boxes and documents over to me to make copies at home.
We threw everything helter skelter into large plastic trash bags, dumped thebags into my Chevy van, and quickly headed back to civilization.
It is noteworthy that before we left, Bobby pointed the flashlight towardsanother, smaller trailer situated on a knoll overlooking the road, which sheclaimed contained Michael's hidden computer equipment.
It was several weeks before Michael learned that Bobby had turned the documentsover to me. She never told him, nor did I. It was through Jonathan Littman, aSan Francisco Chronicle reporter whom I had confided in, that Riconosciutolearned of our secret.
Upon arriving home from my trip to the desert, I had xeroxed roundtheclock forfive days with help from trusted friends. The documents corroborated everythingMichael had related over the phone, and more.
It was an exciting time. Boxes and boxes of documents provided me for the firsttime with a window into the CIA corporate structure, arms deals, drugoperations, money laundering, biological technology, all the connectingtentacles of Danny Casolaro's "Octopus."
After making copies, I squeezed the originals into eight large packing boxes,sealed them tightly, and sent them back to Bobby Riconosciuto,via a friend, who gave them to Michael's father, Marshall Riconosciuto.
I later learned Marshall allegedly shipped them to Ian Stuart Spiro forsafekeeping. It was not until April, 1993, that I learned what became of Spiroand the documents.
An Associated Press news story entitled, "Deaths Linked to Spy Network,"published in the Merced Sun Star newspaper, outlined the death of IanStuart Spiro, 46, who was found dead of cyanide poisoning in the AnzaBorregodesert on November 8, 1992, one week after his wife and children were found shotto death in their Rancho Santa Fe home.
The news story, originating from the Oceanside Blade Citizen, noted that "documentsand U.S. intelligence sources implicated Spiro in the IranContra armsforhostagesaffair and an alleged Justice Department conspiracy to pirate software from aprivate company and sell it to foreign intelligence agencies."
Spiro's name also appeared in Lt. Col. Oliver North's personal notebooksdocumenting the IranContra affair, according to the National Security Archivesin Washington D.C..
Former hostage David Jacobsen told the BladeCitizen shortly after Spiro'sdeath that Spiro helped negotiate the release of hostages in the Middle East.
After obtaining a copy of a followup BladeCitizen article dated June 3, 1993,entitled, "Spiro Probers Want to Talk to North" by Wade Booth, StacyFinz and Michael Williams, I learned thatIan Spiro lived in Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970's and 1980's where he "madecontacts with Lebanese religious leaders and the Islamic Jihad."
Greg Quarton, Spiro's brotherinlaw, told reporters at the BladeCitizen thatSpiro maintained communication with Lebanese business associates until the timeof his death, but investigating officers had possession of Spiro's phonebills, and as of this writing, they had not released them.
San Diego sheriff's Capt. Jim Marmack said detectives were investigatingallegations by Spiro's relatives that his file cabinets and business paperswere missing.
The week of the Spiro family's death, Robert Corson, a business associate ofSpiro's indicted in a savings and loan scam, was found dead in an El Paso,Texas, motel room. Corson, who reportedly worked for the CIA,died of a heart attack, officials said. The BladeCitizen reported that Corsononce carried money to South America in a deal to deliver covert weapons. Corsonalso allegedly associated with California investor Wayne Reeder who was seen ata Wackenhut/Contra meeting in Riverside county (See Chapter 10).
The newspaper article went on to say that Alan Michael May, age 50, [aformer Northern California field director in Richard Nixon's presidentialcampaign and attorney for Nixon's brothers Donald and Edward] was found dead inhis San Francisco home on June 19, 1991, four days after a newspaper story inthe Napa Sentinel outlined his role in an alleged plot by Republican Partyofficials to bribe Iranian officials to delay the release of U.S. hostages untilafter President Reagan's inauguration.
Immediately after May's death, Raymond Lavas, Ted Gunderson's formerforensic's expert, (and a former protege of Robert Maheu according to MichaelRiconociuto) wrote a letter to one of Michael's friends, expressing hisprofessional opinion about the death of Michael May. A copy of that letter wasfaxed to me and the following excerpts quickly captured my attention:
"... I don't understand why it's going to take two weeks to determine May'scause of death. Did you know that certain chemical assassination methods willhave been evaporated out of the body by that time?
"Then, the cause of death would be ruled as natural, since the chemicalagents are the primary cause that result in a secondary action such as heartfailure, kidney or liver damage, etc.
"Some examples of these agents include BZ2, Ricin, Tropodotoxin, shellfishtoxia and a variety of methlamine based neurotoxinsthat affect the centralnervous system and cause failure of one or more organs in the human body.
"Some, if not most of these toxins are solvent based [DMSO] and may beintroduced in minute quantities through the skin. Their effect [may] vary andsome toxins take weeks to months to take effect. Others take moments to damagethe nervous system, then evaporate within hours.
"Unless the body is immediately refrigerated, the toxins are quicklyevaporated, leaving only one or two parts per million in quantity. Unless thereare suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, a trained forensic expertwould never detect any traces of the toxin.
"So there you have it. [Michael] May is dead and they are dragging theirasses to find out how! What is next? A statement that May died of naturalcauses? Let me predict this now ... and we'll see. Regards, Ray."
Michael May also apparently attended briefings connected with Lawrence LivermoreLabs in California according to an official listing of Lawrence Livermoreemployees at a "Briefings and Discussions" document obtained fromRiconosciuto's files.
The document, stamped, "Official Use Only," listed Edward Telleralong with nine other names, including Michael May, under the heading "LawrenceLivermore Laboratory." Other headings with names listed underneathincluded the Department of Energy, Department of State, Defense Nuclear Agencyand Naval Research Laboratory. There were no other pages accompanying thedocument, so it was impossible to determine from what manual it came from.
May's name also popped up in a letter Michael Riconosciutowrote to Dr. John Phillip Nichols at the Cabazon Indian reservation when he wasbeing screened for security clearances to work on the Cabazon/Wackenhut jointventure.
The letter focused primarily on Al Holbert, an Israeli intelligence officerwho allegedly recruited Riconosciutointo the CIA, and May's name was mentioned only once, inconnection with members of "The Company." That one sentence read as follows: "Ben Kalka's relationship withHolbert and `May' will give the proper authorities the necessary auspices tocome in and swiftly clean it [The Company] up."
Other portions of the letter gave a history of Riconosciuto'sexperience with Al Holbert (Excerpts):
" ... My problems stemmed from my association with Al C. Holbert. I firstmet Holbert when I was still in high school and I was led to believe that he wasan `unofficial' representative of the Israeli government. I was further led tobelieve that his interests were not contrary to those of the United States. Itwas not until July of 1981 that I learned the truth about Holbert. It camedirectly from him to me personally in what I will call a confrontationalsituation.
"August of 1981 was when I first brought Holbert to your [Dr. John Nichols]attention. At that time, I still did not know much and I was still in a sort ofstate of shock from my `new awareness' of Holbert. I was in deep with this guyand so wasPaul [Morasca].
"At first Paul thought that I was off base and overreacting and then bydegrees he started to come around. Much of the incredible account of Paul'sdoings (money transfers, gems, weapons, drugs) were the result of hisrelationship to Burt and Jensen. Burt, Jensen and Kalka all met Paul through his brother Joe. I was the one who introduced Al Holbert to Paul, and Paul wasthe one who introduced me to Burt, Jensen and Kalka. This was in early 1967.
"I was introduced to [Al] Holbert through the Stanford crowd at the home of[name withheld] in Portola Valley, California. Interesting enough, [namewithheld] is a former State Department employee ..."
" ... The realization of who and what Holbert is, and Paul's death, havetaken me some time to adjust to. And that required professional help. I nowhave a clear idea and good perspective on what has really happened in my life.
"I am in awe of Holbert and his group's power [The Company]. During the last year, I have forced this structure to rear its ugly head in manydifferent times and places, and in ways that can't be covered up. I have alsospread far and wide what knowledge I have with the intent to first protectothers involved and secondly to chisel the story in stone.
"Where it all stands now is that no matter who the group attempts tosilence or what ruse they attempt to perpetrate, the truth cannot be destroyed. This is now in the hands of a competent attorney. My direct involvement isfinished except to be available to answer questions.
" ... I feel that Holbert and his group represent a current nationalsecurity nightmare to this country. I feel that I have been extricated fromthe hold of this group. But I also feel that the destruction by legal means ofthis group ranks in importance with my scientific and engineering skills to theoverall picture.
"Ben Kalka's relationship with Holbert and May will give the properauthorities the necessary auspices to come in and swiftly clean it up. I wouldnow like to start out where we should have been a year ago. The first point Iwill start with is a recap of our visit to Pickitinny Arsenal ..."
It is noteworthy that two of the people mentioned in the above letter arenow dead: Paul Morasca and Michael May.
The bizarre circumstances of Morasa's death are detailed in the next few pages. Ben Kalka of The Company, is now serving time in prison for having 900 pounds ofmethamphetamine in his possession at time of arrest.
Through one of Michael's contacts, I managed to locate the current (1991)whereabouts of Al Holbert and confirm his identity. A letter written on "SolomonInvestigations" letterhead, dated June 13, 1991, to a client requestingpayment for the services of Holbert read as follows: (Excerpted) " ...I enlisted the services of my electronic countermeasures expert, A.C. Holbert,for an immediate survey and sweep of the premises. Mr. Holbert is highlyregarded as the best electronics man in the [San Francisco] Bay Area andhas recently worked with Israeli intelligence services in the field ofelectronic countermeasures. He agreed to take on this job. I have encloseda copy of Mr. Holbert's faxed report ..."
The mystery of Al Holbert was further uncovered in a 1983 transcript in whichMichael stated, "After Paul's [Morasca] death, Holbert admitted to me thathe was a Soviet backed agent, and they had a home, or he had a home for me, andI could be treated like royalty, and he reiterated that offer in the latestmeeting, and he said, `He was prepared to deliver some fivehundredthousanddollars cash to me us a show of good faith ..."
The transcript, originating from a series of tape recorded interviewsbetween Michael Riconosciuto, Ted Gunderson andRobert Booth Nichols at Nichols' "007" apartment in Marina Del Ray, provided a window into the entire drug scene in California from theearly 1960's through the 1980's, mostly relating to methamphetamine operationsin the Bay Area. It had been typed by Ellen Nichols, Robert's wife.
Riconosciuto's relationship with Ted Gundersondated back at least as far as 1982. Michael and Nichols dated back to 1967. In reading the transcript, it appeared that Gunderson and Nichols wereinterviewing Riconosciuto for recruitment into a drug/sting operation.
Riconosciuto later verified that he was, in fact,being recruited into the overseas Lebanon drug operation by Gunderson andNichols because of his (Riconosciuto's) undercover experience in thedrug trade.
It is noteworthy that Al Holbert, the Israeli intelligence agent whooriginally recruited Michael into the CIA, is mentionedextensively throughout the 71page transcript.
Riconosciuto's relationship with Holbert had lasted from 1966to 1981, a span of fifteen years. Most of that time had been devoted to complexdrug activities in California. In one passage, Riconosciuto stated that "BenKalka was one of [Al] Holbert's lieutenants. The other lieutenant with Kalkawas Charlie Weinberg, who set up the Vortex Chemical Company in Berkeley,California for Holbert."
Holbert was also interested in technology. "I really confided in him. Iwas constantly steering him to various people in the Silicon Valley, you know,for requests that he made which were very sophisticated technical requests."
In the transcript, Ted Gunderson asked Michael, "Holbert had a technicalmind for that sort of thing?"
Michael responded, "Absolutely! [He had] a firm grasp of physics,mathematics, chemistry, military hardware ..."
Gunderson asked, "Let's go back to '66 to '81, you were close to him?"
Michael: "Not on a regular basis. He would get in contact with me when heneeded consultation in certain areas. I made some good money. I designedcommunications equipment for them. I did a lot of software development ..."
Ted: "And then he gave it to the Israelis?"
Mike: "Yes."
Ted: "And he admitted this?"
Mike: "Oh yeah, none of it was really classified. I did software for theanalysis of radar change data. It was based on mathematical models that theDepartment of Defense wasn't using you know, my approach was new and differentfrom theirs, but it wasn't connected with any of their projects, so technicallyit wasn't classified."
Michael developed other technology along the way and subsequently attracted theattention of Dr. John Phillip Nichols at Wackenhut/Cabazon who wanted hisservices. But Michael's association with Al Holbert was hindering Michael'ssecurity clearances. Through the screening process and Dr. John Nichols,Michael had learned more about Al Holbert.
Ted: "Well, how could he [Holbert] be a Soviet agent and an Israeli agent?"
Mike: "Your guess is as good as mine. I talked to Major General Peratt onthat subject last May and he said, `You don't understand the ways of the world.' Regarding Al Holbert, I said, `That man has done more damage to my generationand my country [drugs] How can you people say that you're friends of the UnitedStates, when you send us a guy like that?"
Michael continued ..."You know, Holbert came to the United States and hewent to work for the Treasury Department out of Philadelphia and ..."
Ted interrupted. "In what way? As an agent?"
Mike: "I don't know what the relationship was. The Treasury Departmentwouldn't tell me. They wouldn't comment at all except to acknowledge that,`Yes, he was involved at very high levels, giving special training.'
" ... Holbert taught courses in interrogation techniques. He taughttouchkill techniques you know, with the thumbs on the temples and various scareareas like that. He moved around to a lot of different agencies. He gotinvolved with the FBI, and he was involved with the Drug Enforcement people ..."
Ted: "He indicated to you for fifteen years [that] he was with theIsraelis?"
Mike: "Israelis. Yes."
Ted: "And then you realized through Dr. Nichols that he was a Soviet?"
Riconosciuto explained that he thought it was John Ammarellat Wackenhut who had "zeroed in on Holbert."
Gunderson continued to press Riconosciuto about Holbert beinga double agent. Michael responded: "Well, he was with the Soviets, but hewas also with the Israelis. Holbert definitely is connected with Israeliintelligence. I mean there's no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes ... He was decoratedin combat for them."
Riconosciuto further recounted a visit to Israel in April1982. He had met a man (name unspecified) who was the assistant Secretary ofDefense of Israel for a number of years and was in charge of defense productionfor the Israeli government. This man was a friend of Ariel Sharon and he hadintroduced Riconosciuto to Sharon. It was through this man and a man named "GeneralPeratt," that Riconosciuto confirmed Holbert's position with the Israelis.
"Holbert definitely is one of their boys. I got an admission out ofGeneral Peratt that Holbert was funny, that he's a Trotskiite, and they knewabout it, and I couldn't understand why they kept a guy like that around? I wastold that I just didn't understand the ways of the world!"
Ted asked, "Who does Holbert report to?"
Mike: "Jean Pierre Boegner."
At this point in the transcript, Robert Booth Nichols interceded and providedBoegner's address: " ... His address in Paris is 114 Champs Elysees, Paris8, France. That goes into my territory ..."
Mike added, "Jean Pierre reports directly to Colonel Stefan Uznanski of theUkraine ..." Nichols noted, "I have strict files on him."
Ted asked, "And is he GRU?"
Mike answered, "No KGB."
Nichols added, "As high as you can go ..."
Ted asked, "And where is he, in the Kremlin?"
Mike answered, "No, he's in Vienna."
Nichols interjected, " ... Out of Salzberg. He has a home twenty minutesfrom Salzberg. His hobby is boar hunting. He has about a twenty mancontingent."
Gunderson asked, "Is Boegner a Canadian?"
Nichols responded, "Boegner is French. Boegner was involved in theassassination attempt on de Gaulle. Boegner served time."
Ted: "He's KGB?"
Nichols: "Oh yeah, a Colonel."
Ted: "Okay, anything else. Anything more on Holbert that we should bringup?"
Riconosciuto noted that Holbert was very disappointed that hecouldn't "turn him" (Riconosciuto) in August of 1981. Ted askedMichael if Holbert admitted at that time that he was KGB?
Michael corrected Ted, "GRU, he was GRU. He told me that he was GRU and hebragged that there were over thirtyfive thousand GRU agents active on the NorthAmerican continent. And I checked with John Ammarall and with Robert Frye[executives at Wackenhut Corporation] and they told me it was about half thatnumber.
" ... He [Holbert] wanted me to leave the United States, through Canada,and go to Israel."
Riconosciuto added, "You know, he's touched the CentralIntelligence Agency, the Treasury Department, the Secret Service and variouslocal law enforcement agencies all over the country ..."
The abovementioned transcript was mailed by one of three people to the "prosecutor"at Michael Riconosciuto's trial in Washington state where itwas entered into evidence.
******
At that time, to Michael's knowledge, only Robert Booth Nichols, Peter Zokoskyand Jonathan Littman, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, had possessionof it.
I subsequently received a copy of it from Jonathan Littman, whocoincidentally, I learned later, happened to be Ben Kalka's "cousin"(Kalka belonged to The Company, according to Riconosciuto,and had been arrested with 900 pounds of methamphetamine in his possession). Littman had obtained the transcript from Peter Zokosky, Robert Booth Nichols'partner.
Riconosciuto believed Littman had given the transcript toKalka during one his visits with him at the Pleasanton prison, and Kalka hadsent it on to the prosecutor at Michael's trial.
Nichols later confirmed to me that he (Nichols) had indeed interviewedRiconosciuto with Ted Gunderson in 1983 andthe transcript was legitimate, though he wouldn't state the purpose ofthe interview.
******
It is significant that a passage in the 1983 transcript mentioned Michael May as"one of the top three guys in the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory managementstructure" who was associated with Riconosciuto.
******
Michael and Bobby Riconosciuto had been communicating withJonathan Littman for months, as had Danny Casolaro before hisdeath, and they wanted me to connect with him. At that point, Littman hadwritten a series of indepth articles on the Cabazon Indians and Dr. JohnNichols, and I hadn't been interested in talking to him ... until he wrote aboutthe death of Michael's partner, Paul Morasca.
The article, entitled, "Bizarre Murders Puzzle Cops," published on thefront page of the San Francisco Chronicle on December 30, 1991, noted that thebody of Paul Morasca, 31, had been found by Michael Riconosciuto. Morasca's arms had been lashed behind his back as he was hogtied with atelephone cord from his curledup legs to his neck. Police believed he died whenhis legs finally gave out and the cord tightened like a bowstring, drawing thenoose around his neck until he slowly strangled.
Before his death, Morasca and Riconosciuto had planned abusiness venture with Cabazon administrator John Phillip Nichols to develophightechnology military hardware. Morasca was also described as a "San Francisco entrepreneur suspectedof being a money launderer involved in a major Northern California drug ring."
Oddly, when Riconosciuto found Morasca's body, he drove 500miles to the Cabazon reservation and told John Nichols about the death. Nicholsthen called his Los Angeles attorney, who telephoned the San Francisco police.
Just three days after Morasca's death, Mary Quick, a 63yearold schoolteacher was shot in the face and her purse stolen as she was about toenter Fresno's American legion Post 509, where she was president of the Woman'sAuxiliary.
At first, police assumed it to be a routine mugging murder, until it wasdiscovered that her nephew, Brian Weiss, who had been living at hisaunt's house in Fresno, was a business associateof Michael Riconosciuto's. (Brian Weiss wasalso mentioned in the abovementioned 1983 "drug transcript").
Riconosciuto explained to police that he told Paul Morascathat he had given Mary Quick a card containing secret bank account codenumbers because "she had no connection to any of the principles andcould be trusted." She had been instructed to give the code numbers overthe phone only to Paul Morasca or Michael Riconosciuto.
It was not until I obtained Michael Riconosciuto's "desert"files that the above story affected me personally. Within one of the boxeswas an envelope containing eight coded computer cards with large sums of moneyhandwritten next to the account numbers. One card, containing ten accountnumbers, indicated sums of upwards of $3.5 million dollars. That was justone card of eight.
In my next conversation with Michael Riconosciuto, I inquiredof him the "real" story behind Paul Morasca and Mary Quick's death. Idid not reveal to him that I was in possession of his bank cards, but referredto the S.F. Chronicle newspaper story.
Michael remorsefully indicated that he had not, in fact, given any cards to MaryQuick as he had told Paul Morasca he did. Michael had kept them (and obviouslyhidden them at his desert trailer). Nevertheless, Morasca believed, and undertorture revealed, that one of the cards was being held by Mary Quick and therest were stored in a safe deposit box. As we know, Mary Quick died three dayslater.
After that conversation I immediately took the cards to a professionalphotographer, had closeup photographs taken of them, and returned them in aseparate envelope to Bobby Riconosciuto. I never knew whatshe did with them.
During subsequent phone conversations, Riconosciuto oftenreferred to his former partner, Paul Morasca. During his attempted trade intothe Federal Witness Protection Program, he had made a statement which caught myattention, and which I later inquired about. While relating his background inthe electronics field, he had mentioned that he once worked at Tyme Share,Inc. Chuck Evert, a longtime family friend, had reportedly been one of thefounders along with Tom O'Roarke.
Noted Riconosciuto, " ... And at the time of PaulMorosca's death, the biggest loss I received was a big bag of bearer shares oforiginal Tyme Shares stock. And that was the main reason why Paul got killed."
Riconosciuto had stressed that only the FinCen people wouldunderstand the significance of that. I later learned that the computer cardswhich Paul Morasca and Mary Quick had died for belonged to the Tyme Sharesonline financial clearing house used worldwide by banking institutions. Essentially, the cards were provided to a subscriber or "user" whorented time on the computer for conducting banking transactions.
Riconosciuto chose not to elaborate on his operation at TymeShares from a "jail" phone, nevertheless, I was able to decipher thathe and Paul Morasca had accessed bank accounts using the computer cards inconjunction with a "password" determined by the user. Michael hadcreated the passwords from the "pets" named in Phyllis Riconosciuto's(Michael's exwife's) diary.
He did, however, randomly discuss his background with Tyme Shares: "Ideveloped the modem, error trapping routines for Tyme Share used on the originalnetwork. I developed the protected mode memory for the scientific data systems,SDS, Sigma 7 computers. And I developed the capital PERT, Pert Software, whichwas the next generation of critical path method. That's a Programmed EvaluationReview Technique that Tyme Shares, for years, was the leader in.
"And then Electronic Data Systems bought a license from them, and you know,EDS's story is legendary. Now, PROMISE is an outgrowth of PERT. The Hamiltonshad a woman programmer who was selftaught and she's the one, her signature is inthe code structures of PROMIS. It's just like her signature because she was outof the mainstream and did things her own way ..."
Shortly thereafter, while reviewing Riconosciuto's documents,I came across a copy of an obscure statement submitted by Riconosciuto in February1984 to the San Francisco Grand Jury on the death of Paul Morasca. Itcryptically tied Morasca to Wackenhut and appeared to have been transcribedfrom a tape recorded interview. The statement in its entirety read as follows:
"I first heard of Phil Porath in December of 1981. John Phillip Nichols[Cabazon administrator] told Paul Morasca and myself that we needed Phil Porathas a consultant to Recovery Technology, Inc. Porath was represented by John P.Nichols as being able to smoothly handle metals transactions for RTI on a largescale. Phil Porath was one of the contacts that John Phillip Nichols hadcommitted to arrange for Paul as part of our deal. Paul Morasca's body wasfound after he failed to contact Porath for that scheduled meeting in January1982.
"After Paul's death, JPN [John Phillip Nichols] came to me with a request. He asked me if I could recover some of Ben Kalka's LSD because he had asale for 5 lbs. of it to someone in Romania. John Phillip Nichols claimed thatthis was an authorized covert intelligence operation and the proceeds wouldbe used to purchase George Wackenhut's yacht, Top Secret.
"Military electronics equipment to be delivered to South Africa was also tobe purchased according to JPN and delivered by the yacht. I went along with theprogram because JPN told me that the `agency' was involved through WSI. I did some checking on my own and became suspicious of JPN. Then JPN met withmyself and Raoul Arana of Central Carribean Research, Inc.
"At this meeting, the details were plainly discussed by Mr. Arana. At thatpoint, JPN directed me to have PAT (Phillip Arthur Thompson) recover [all]of Kalka's assets. I then contactedDeSilva, who had control of Kalka's assets and he agreed to release them tome. DeSilva later called the Indian reservation and gave the location ofthe assets which included: one bobtail semitruck with power lift gate loadedwith amphetamine production chemicals; one red Datsun truck with aportable refrigerator containing the acid.
"I accompanied PAT and Steve Finley to the locations of these vehicles inthe Oakland area. The keys, title and registration were with each vehicle. PATand SF drove the vehicles off and I reported to JPN that the vehicles had beenlocated and picked up.
"I also reported to my attorney, DW (Don Wager), the details. I contactedJPN a few days later and he complained to me that PAT had made off witheverything.
" ... with George Wackenhut in Las Vegas. JPN told me that my problemswould be over with if I went along with the program. Brian Weiss [MaryQuick's nephew] drove me to Palm Springs where I rented a car. JPN, myself andBrian Weiss then drove to Las Vegas.
"We arrived in Las Vegas late in the afternoon. We checked into the hotel. After we checked in, I was then introduced to Phil Porath by JPN. Porathseemed a little nervous and upset with JPN. JPN seemed desperate to have PhilPorath stall George W. on the sale of the yacht. Phil Porath seemed reluctantto go along with JPN.
"JPN, myself and Porath then went to a private section of the dining roomand met with GW [George Wackenhut] and JA[John Ammarell]. Duringdinner, JPN outlined my situation. [Al] Holbert, [Ben] Kalka, [Richard]Knozzi, [and] the Fresno Company were covered in detail.
"A cutaway, sectioned high security lock was also shown to JA and GW[George Wackenhut]. JA said that this should be presented to his personalfriend, Bud Miller, for action and that I would be contacted.
"The sale of the WH [Wackenhut] yacht then came up. Porath gave GW a story[at] JPN's prompting. GW was impatient and asked where the `South African'Thompson could be reached?I then asked GW [George Wackenhut] if he was referringto PAT [Phillip Arthur Thompson] and he said, `Yes.'
"I then demanded to know what was going on? I laid out to GW what PAThad done, including murdering PM [Paul Morasca]. JPN interrupted me andtold GW that I was mistaken and it was a different PT that I was talking about. It was at that point that GW [George Wackenhut] said he had a hearing problemand the dinner broke up.
"I went immediately to make telephone calls. I spread the word that I feltmy life was in danger and that JPN, WH, and PAT had conspired to kill PM [PaulMorasca]. I then went back to the dining area where I saw PP [Phil Porath] andGW [George Wackenhut] at a small twoperson table talking about the yacht deal. JPN and JA were standing up and they asked me to come to JA's room.
"At JA's room, everybody acted like nothing had happened. There we talkedfor an hour or so about hitech projects. JPN and I then went to PP's room andtalked [about] P's missed meeting with Paul M., Bill Jensen, Burt Gardener andmetal projects. We then went to bed. The next morning JPN, BW [Brian Weiss]and I drove back to Indio. At no time did JPN mention the problem that camedown at dinner."
******
In John Connolly's SPY magazine article on Wackenhut, September 1992 issue, onpage 54, a brief notation mentioned Riconosciuto's meeting inLas Vegas with George Wackenhut and John Ammarell, a Wackenhut board memberand consultant to George Wackenhut. SPY contacted Ammarell regarding themeeting, and Ammarell confirmed that such a meeting did indeed take place in LasVegas. "I don't remember any specific conversations," Ammarell said, "butI think we were there to discuss the sale of George's [Wackenhut] yacht, the TopSecret. I think Nichols said he had a potential buyer."
Wrote SPY, "So, the wealthy president of a large security company withCIA ties and one of his board members meet with a drug dealerturned electronics expert and a spook turned arms supplier and all theydiscuss is the sale of a boat?"
******
After reading the newspaper article on the death of Paul Morasca, I contactedJonathan Littman at the San Francisco Chronicle. Littman jumped in the carand drove from San Francisco to Mariposa (near Yosemite NationalPark) when he learned I had obtained Michael's hidden documents.
Interestingly, when he arrived at my home he thumbed through piles of documents,but seemed to be looking for something specific. I later learned he was searching for Phyllis Riconosciuto's(Michael's first wife's) diary.
While Michael had worked at Wackenhut, Phyllis had been treated psychiatricallyby the Cabazon administrator, Dr. John Phillip Nichols. Part of her treatmentincluded writing a "diary" of her life with Michael. Michael laterbroke into Nichols' office at the reservation and stole the original diarybefore fleeing to Washington state.
The original diary was in fact included in the documents I had obtained in thedesert, but I decided to withhold specific pages from Littman until I coulddetermine what his purpose for wanting them was. An incident which I haveenumerated in Chapter 10, confirmed that my instincts had been subliminallycorrect.
Meanwhile, I attempted to satisfy Littman with a few documents sent to me byHenry Weinstein, court reporter for the Los Angeles Times. I had contactedWeinstein to inquire if he had written anything on Robert Booth Nichols'(unrelated to Dr. John Phillip Nichols) lawsuit against the Los Angeles FBI,specifically FBI agent Thomas Gates?
Weinstein had not heard of the lawsuit, but immediately investigated at the LosAngeles courthouse. Shortly thereafter, he sent a package of documents relatingnot only to Nichols' lawsuit against Thomas Gates, but also relative to Nichols'corporate minutes on the facilitation of biological technology to Japaneseinstitutes, copies of his weapons permits, and documents indicating that EugeneGiaquinto, Vice president of MCA Entertainment Division, was on the board ofdirectors of Nichols' corporation, Meridian International Logistics.
Marvin Rudnick, now a Pasadena lawyer, once tried to prosecute MCACorporation for organized crime involvement, but got shut down atthe highest level, and the Organized Crime Strike Force was disbanned. Onemember of that investigative team was Richard Stavin, who talked to DannyCasolaroshortly before his death.
Eugene Giaquinto and Jack Valente played heavily in Rudnick's investigation ofMCA, as did Curry Company (a subsidiary of MCA) in Yosemite National Park. Rudnick was written up in American Lawyer for his explorations through the MCAlabrynth, and at some point, worked closely with Thomas Gates during hisinvestigation of Robert Nichols. Gates and Weinstein were also well acquaintedwith Mariposa County government's relationship withCurry Company. (See page 2 of manuscript).
In return for sharing copies of these documents with him, I asked Littman tocollaborate with me on a story concerning the government sanctioned (10years!) methamphetamine operations at Whiskey Flats, on the Sara Priest Indian reservation in Mariposa. I was still intent on forcing the arrest of deputies involved in the methlab at that location. (See page 3 of manuscript). Littman instructed me to puttogether a detailed synopsis which he would submit to the San FranciscoChronicle.
******
CHAPTER 10
Through Michael Riconosciuto, Danny Casolarohad compiled a sizable list of former CIA officers and arms dealers,the most noteworthy of whom was Robert Booth Nichols, described in variouspublications as a James Bond type who jetted around the world trading arms andother products.
At the time of Danny's investigation, Nichols headed Meridian InternationalLogistics (M.I.L.), a Californiabased company that conducted extensive businessin Australia and Japan. M.I.L. also controlled Meridian Arms Corporation ofwhich Riconosciuto was briefly Vice President.
Out of the WackenhutCabazon endeavor grew a business partnership between Nicholsand Riconosciuto, both interested in developing new, hightechsubmachine guns and powerful explosive devices that, like a nuclear blast, couldproduce an electromagnetic pulse that could wipe out an enemy's communicatinsand electronics.
The secretive Nichols chatted with Casolaro frequently. Casolaro's July phone bills indicated that he called Nichols fifteen times thatmonth, often in the wee hours of the morning. Several of those phoneconversations lasted for more than two hours. Before his death on August 10th,Danny Casolaro told his brother, Tony, and Bill Hamilton that Nichols warned himthat his investigations were risky.
According to FBI statements, Nichols is not a man whose warnings should be takenlightly. In September 1987, Special Agent Thomas Gates of the Los Angeles FBIhad begun an investigation of the activities of Robert Booth Nichols and hiscorporation, Meridian International Logistics, through Japanese and Australianlegal attaches abroad.
According to a subsequent deposition filed by Gates, the bureau suspectedNichols of being involved in a $500 million stock fraud and of maintaining tiesto the Gambino crime family and organized crime in Japan.
Gates's deposition was part of a 1987 wiretapping on the phone of EugeneGiaquinto, an official of the MCA entertainment corporation with reputed MOBlinks. Nichols was one of the people whose calls the bureau intercepted. According to the wiretap application, Nichols was allegedly an internationalmoney launderer for money generated through narcotics trafficking and organizedcrime activities.
In June, 1989, Nichols sued Thomas Gates in a California state court for libel,slander, and interference with contractural relationships when he (Gates)allegedly acted outside the scope of his employment by initiating contacts withthe Australian Federal Police and various individuals in Australia and Japan. The complaint asked for damages in the amount of $11,000,000.
Ted Gunderson submitted an affidavit on Nichols' behalf, stating that hebelieved Gates HAD acted outside the scope of his employment when investigatingNichols abroad, the suit was subsequently dismissed through the Ninth CircuitCourt of Appeals.
Robert Booth Nichols was depicted in one eastern publication as a "handsome,dashing figure, frequently described as `Clark Gable without the ears' ..." His friendship with movie actor Steven Seagal brought him a cameo appearance inthe movie, "Under Siege," but his real purpose for being on the setwas to act as technical advisor for the weaponry used in the movie.
The son of a prominent Los Angeles surgeon, Nichols is the inventor of asubmachine pistol that he maintained was superior to the MAC10.
Nichols' weapons permit application, dated January 28, 1985 from the Santa ClaraCounty Sheriff's Department, indicated that that he was born on March 6, 1943 atLoma Linda, California. In addition to his residences in California, hemaintained residences in Italy, France, Australia and London, England for "businesspurposes for twenty years."
His medical doctor was listed in Zurich, Switzerland. He had worked for HaroldOkimoto in Hawaii for four years, from 1968 to 1972 as Vice President ofPreventor Security Center, an intruder electronics firm.
The four guns registered to him included two Colt .45 automatics. His purposefor carrying a concealed weapon was listed as such: "I am involved in theresearch and development of weapons systems, ranging from the basic blowbackautomatic weapon to various advanced destructive devices. As I have detailedknowledge of the workings of these systems, I feel it is imperative to havepersonal protection for myself and for the good of the community."
Nichols' corporation, Meridian Arms, a subsidiary of MeridianInternational Logistics, was licensed in California in 1987 to possesand/or transport machine guns, Permit No. 01678, and to sell machine guns,Permit No. 01677. A 1985 Statement by Domestic Stock Corporation filed with theSecretary of State in Sacramento listed Harold Okimoto, Peter Zokosky, andGlenShockley as Directors in addition to Nichols' family.
Okimoto, Zokosky and Shockley are also listed as Directors on MeridianInternational Logistics, Inc. (MIL). Eugene F. Giaquinto, president ofMCA (Music Corporation of America) Home Entertainment Division in UniversalCity, was also a Director of M.I.L. until May 31, 1988, when he resigned andreturned his 10,000 shares of stock as a result of the Los Angeles OrganizedCrime Task Force investigation, at that time headed by Thomas Gates.
The May 25, 1988 Minutes of an MIL Board meeting reflected Robert Booth Nicholsconcern with the investigation: " ... Upon meeting with Agent Gates onMarch 8, 1988, our legal counsel, Judge Mark Robinson, interpreted the line ofquestioning of Agent Gates as having a main focus on the relationship betweenRobert Nichols and MCA, Inc. (of which Mr. Giaquinto is an officer).
" ... Therefore, due to Mr. Nichols' concern, which Mr. Giaquintounderstood and thus stated he would submit written resignation within two days;it was the unanimous decision of the Board to remove Mr. Giaquinto from theposition of Director of MIL forthwith ..."
Nichols' concern with such an investigation can well be justified when youreview the Minutes of an MIL board meeting held in Sherman Oaks on August 26,1988. The following business was discussed and voted upon: (Excerpted)
"It was the unanimous decision of the Board to draft a letter to thePresident of an internationally recognized Medical School in Japan (asreferenced in our corporate minutes of April 24, 1988) with regard to ourcorporation's intention to make available a grant of funds to said School,as the funds become available to our corporation, and under specific terms andconditions.
" ... The phenomenal success in the field of immunotherapeutics by theImmunology Department of said Japanese Medical School has convinced the Board[of MIL] that the EXCLUSIVE training of qualified physicians under contractto and the direction of Meridian International Logistics, Inc., would be ofgreat value and benefit to our company and it's shareholders."
While reading these documents, I couldn't help wondering why an "arms"dealer, allegedly tied in with organized crime, wanted to fund the exclusivetraining of physicians at a Japanese medical school?
The Minutes of MIL dated September 20th, 1988, referred to an agreement executedon September 14th, which discussed the threeway, equal ownership between MIL,Dr. Shigeyoshi Fujimoto, and Ajinomoto Co. Inc., of certain patentedbiological technology identified as "a newly devised technology forinduction and activation of cytotoxic Tlymphocytes (Tcells), referred to asCTL, directed to autologous cancer cells in vitro with high efficacy utilizinga serumfree medium."
A Power of Attorney was issued to attorney Fujio Kubota in Japan to file patentsand registrations on the technology entitled "The Method for Inductionand Activation of Cytotoxic TLymphocytes."
The signatories on the Agreement to file Registrations and Patents on September14, 1988 were listed as Dr. Shigeyoshi Fujimoto; Takasha Miyamae (AjinomotoCo., Inc.); Hidetoshi Onogi (representative of MIL); Kanehiro Ishida(International Service Center, Inc.); and Takashi Kumakawa (American Embassy).
Hidetoshi Onogi was granted full power of attorney to negotiate and execute anequity position for Meridian International Logistics related to the filings and"any other documentation pertaining to the technical knowledge and themechanical and/or chemical processes for the production of T Cells as arepresent in the immune system of the human body or any other organism."
In and of itself this transaction seemed innocuous enough. But again I asked myself, why was an international arms dealer on the Board ofF.I.D.C.O (First Intercontinental Development Corporation), a CIAfront corporation, which offered three billion dollars to rebuild Beirut toPresident Amin Gamayel of Lebanon, whose chief of finances (Sami el Khouri) wasshipping tons of heroin to Sicily for reexport to America, want to invest in "amethod for induction and activation of cytotoxic TLymphocytes"?
Was this technology being developed with the authority of the U.S. government,or independently? If Nichols' operations were in fact government sanctioned,then it must have been frustrating for him to be investigated by the FBI. Theconcept of the FBI inadvertently investigating the CIA wasironic. And what had Danny Casolaro learned about thistechnology?
I found a possible answer in an obscure letter written on Wackenhut/Cabazonletterhead, dated January 20, 1983, addressed to Dr. Harry Fair at TacticalTechnology in Arlington, Virginia, from Dr. John P. Nichols, CabazonAdministrator. The letter noted that on February 15th, 1983, Dr. Nichols wouldbe forwarding to Dr. Fair "a unique list of agents and productiontechniques related to biological warfare."
The letter went on to say that the Storemont Laboratories business plan Dr.Nichols mailed to him was to prepare him for what was to be sent in the area ofbiological warfare. Added Dr. Nichols: "[These] productscould be utilized in small countries bordering ALBANIA or large countriesbordering the Soviet Union. You will be amazed at the scope ..." Icould not help recalling the Village Voice article ("The Last Days of DannyCasolaro," October 15, 1991) which had stated, tongue incheek, that "Casolaro had traced the Inslaw and related stories back toa CIA `Old Boy' network that had begun working together inthe 1950's around the ALBANIA covert operations ..."
The hybridoma technology discussed in attached documents (in MichaelRiconosciuto's files), centered around the ability toreorganize and synthesize genetic structures and to modify "lymphocytes"(immune cells).
Under the heading "Possible Military Applications Utilizing HybridomaTechnology" was the notation that "genesplicing technologyprovides the ability to produce pathogenic (harmful) agents, i.e. viruses."
"In fact," noted the writer, "biological warfare weaponry ofthis nature (both production and supply) is limited only by the imagination ofthe scientist."
Included in the above mentioned documents (attached to the Dr. Harry Fairletter), was a proposal to develop monoclonal antibody kits to detect thepresence of such harmful biological agents in a field (combat) environment. Inother words, develop a laboratory created vaccine for a laboratory createdvirus. The very same proposal had been submitted to Peter Zokosky in December1982 by John P. Nichols.
I wondered, was THIS the same technology that Robert Booth Nichols and theDirectors of MIL, including Peter Zokosky, Glen Shockley and Harold Okimoto,were fronting to the Japanese? What kind of "weapon" was this?
Other weapons discussed in the same letter included the Cabazon Arms CA 9 SMGwhich "Peter Zokosky had the British interested in." The CA 9 SMGcould be produced for $75.00 per unit on the reservation and sold for $100 to$125.00. "It meets all the needs of a small, poor democracy for 9MMparabellum," said Nichols.
"They can afford to purchase this one. We have fired over 50,000 roundswith the test model using South Korean ammunition without jamming. We couldbegin manufacturing within two weeks in a country like Guatemala, Chile, etc.,utilizing USA produced dies and Swedish extrusion machinery." ... PeterZokoskyhas fired both the Viper and the CA 9 SMG and was impressed with both, butparticularly with the CA 9 SMG. Kuwait has been particularly interested infinancing the producion of the CA 9 SMG ..."
Dr. Nichols concluded: "We would initially manufacture on the reservation. We can purchase an existing small company with all the licenses tomanufacture and export. [Meridian Arms?] We are ready. We are continuingto experiment with the combination sniper rifle (9MM) equipped with micropressorvision enhancement (no tubes) (night vision). Michael Riconosciutoand some friends of the reservation have been working cooperatively on thisproject. Within another 90 to 120 days we should have a working model touse on the CA 9 SMG and the sniper rifle."
The ongoing projects listed in research and development were a second 9MMcalibre machine pistol, an assault rifle with laser sighting, a longdistancesniper rifle, and a small portable rocket system which could be attached to theassault rifle.
Three months later, on April 13, 1983, Robert Booth Nichols wrote to JosephPreloznik in Madison, Wisconsin, recapitulating exactly the same weaponsproposal as outlined above by Dr. John Nichols to Dr. Harry Fair.
I never found out who Joseph Preloznik was, but Dr. Harry Fair's name popped upin a Wackenhut InterOffice Memorandum in Michael's files. Dated May 25, 1981,from Robert Frye, a Vice President of Wackenhut in Indio, to Robert Chasen,a Vice President of Wackenhut in Coral Gables (and former Commissioner ofU.S. Customs) the memorandum detailed a May 1213 visit to Dr. Harry Fair,Chief of Propulsion Technology, Applied Sciences Division and others at PickitinnyArsenal in Dover, New Jersey.
The arsenal was listed under the official heading of "U.S. Army ArmamentResearch & Development Command, Large Caliber Weapon Systems Laboratory"or ARRADCOM.
The fivepage memo not only outlined the depth of Wackenhut's commitment andinvolvement at the Cabazon reservation, but it delineated Peter Zokosky'simportance to the projects underway there. One of those projects includedproposed construction of an "R & D" (Research and Development)facility on the Cabazon Indian reservation for the manufacture of 120 mm.combustible cartridge cases for sale to the U.S. Army, with sales also to NATO,and especially to the Federal Republic of Germany which at that time, wasadopting the use of such cases in their Leopard tanks.
Wrote Frye: "The obvious key to any such endeavor is [Peter] Zokosky. He is reportedly one of only 67 personnel in the world who have had anysignificant experience in the development and manufacture of the slurry processinvolved in combustible cartridge cases. He is under present noncompeteagreement with Armtec, his former company, until August 1981. Armtec is thepresent sole source supplier of 120 mm. combustible cartridge cases to the U.S.Government. Zokosky is also serving as a consultant to the British Government..."
It is noteworthy that the Cabazon Indians had enlisted the aid of other Indiantribes to join in their endeavor. Use of adjacent tribal lands as a locationfor a large caliber weapons range test site was obtained from a sister tribe,the Torres Martinez, involving some 30,000 acres of very remote and desolateland near the Salton Sea.Potential use of a test firing range for the "railgun"on the Santa Rosa Mountain, under the control of the Santa Rosa Indians, hadalso been pledged to the Cabazons and the U.S. Government.
A notation was included in the lengthy memorandum to "firm up the dealbetween the Joint Venture and John Vanderwerker, President of IntersectCorporation, [in] Irvine, California," who had the exclusive rights forforeign marketing with the Litton Electron Tube Division in third worldcountries.
Mention of John Vanderwerker in the Wackenhut memorandum was singularlyimportant in my investigative leap from overt arms operations to "covert"intelligence operations.
According to Peter Zokosky, Vanderwerker was on the CIApayroll. In Riconosciuto's files, I located a letterdated April 11, 1983, written to Vanderwerker at Intersect Corporation fromGlenn Shockley, a Board Director of both F.I.D.C.O. (First IntercontinentalDevelopment Corporation) and MIL (MeridianInternational Logistics), under investigation for organized crimeactivities. Robert Booth Nichols was also on the Board of both corporations.
The Octopus trail gets a little complicated here, but it is a significant trail. Both Vanderwerker and Shockley were on the CIA payroll. Documents to that effect will be noted in future pages. In the aforementionedletter,Shockley was offering to Vanderwerker fortytwo AH1S CobraHelicopters at a unit price of seven million eight hundred thousand U.S.dollars each.
The rest of the letter read as follows: (Note a few words had been damagedwhile xeroxing) "The price offered is F.A.S. location at Seller's optionEurope. The price is net to Buyer possessing the proper documentation and doesnot include any government considerations (taxes), if any, all of which(indecipherable) to the Buyer's account.
"For verification of the existence of these products, you are requested torefer to telex transmission occuring during the Spring of 1981 between UnionBank Suisse of Zurich, Switzerland, and Omega Industries of Long Island, NewYork. The transmissions were addressed to Mr. Parvis Lavi at Omega and weresigned by Mr. N.A. (indecipherable) bank officer. Your immediate response tothis offer would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Glenn. R. Shockley."
Attached to this letter was a handwritten memorandum, obviously taken from theabove referenced "telex" transmission. The memo delineated theprocedure for "airframe I.D. number acquisition." The buyer's bankofficer was instructed to telephone Seller's bank officer at 8:00 a.m. Tuesdaymorning to relay the following Seller's bank data: "Bank CreditSuisse, Geneva. Officer Mr. Eucomun. Telephone number 0114122365380.Account Number 02746590 54821 Reference Code J.H."
If the connection was missed, then it was to be repeated Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. $10 million U.S. dollars was to be exchanged at the bank for [a] Frame I.D. No.on Wednesday. If all was ready to proceed in Geneva in 5 banking days, then the$10 million would be credited to the buyer's account toward acquisition of allcraft. If not, then $10 million was to be forfeited.
The bank officer's followup monologue as noted on the memorandum read asfollows: "Acting on behalf of our client, I confirm that he has ondeposit the sum of $10 million U.S.D. Upon receipt of one airframeidentification number, the price of one craft will be set aside irrevocably foryour client. If our client does not present to you within 5 banking days in Geneva, Switzerland, all necessary data, documents and fund commitments, he hasagreed to forfeit the price of one craft to your client's account."
Also attached to these documents, was a sheet of handwritten notes obviouslyrelated to the above transaction. The names of various banks and theirlocations, along with the name of a bank officer, notations about metrictons of gold, and a code name, "Messenger Boy," were crypticallyscrawled on the sheet.
I inquired of Michael Riconosciuto what the story was on thesale of the Cobra helicopters? Riconosciuto briefly related the followingstory. The fortytwo Cobra helicopters had been ordered by/for NATO, then afterthe helicopters were built, the funding was not available. Nichols andGlenn Shockley, working for the CIA, were contracted to "getrid of the helicopters." John Vanderwerker was brought into theoperation and the helicopters were shipped to a warehouse in Europe,destined for North Korea, then Iraq.
It is important to note here that North Korea was a conduit for arms to Iraqfrom both the United States and the Soviet Union. In essence, the United States was forced to "compete" with theSoviets in providing arms to Iraq.
This is discussed in further chapters, but in summary, what it all boiled downto was Oliver North supplied arms to Iran. The CIA supplied arms toIraq. And Wackenhut supplied arms to the Contras. All under the authority andsupervision of the U.S. Government.
I asked Michael Riconosciuto if Danny Casolarohad knowledge of the "helicopter" deal? Michael responded, "Igave him the names of the people that were involved and Danny went out andconfirmed it."
I asked him to elaborate. "Well, Danny went and talked to Roy Furmarc(phonetic sp.), William Casey's exright hand man, and Furmarc admitted that hehad contact with them [the helicopters]. And when the NATO stuff disappeared,Bob [Nichols] disappeared with it. They weren't going to pay Bob and hisaccomplices what they wanted, per the original deal, and Bob got angry and justwalked away with it all. But Bob got help from some people in the WhiteHouse, and they cut a certain group of guys in the agency [CIA]out."
I asked, "Who was involved with the helicopter sale besides Nichols?"
"Well, Glen Shockley, Parvis Lavi (phonetic sp.), he's an Iranian,but he worked with the Israeli (indecipherable word) Mission out of New York ..."
Riconosciuto paused, remembering, then continued with hisstory: " ... I brought in Stan Singer, former deputy Israeli DefenseMinister, to try and take all those helicopters off everybody's hands. I wouldhave made a nice, tidy sum of money for myself ..."
"Who were the helicopters originally destined for?"
Mike: "NATO. During the Carter administration, there was a slip up on somefunding, they were really screwy in the way they handled certain things ..."
"Was this some kind of an undercover operation?"
Mike: "It was on the up and up, regular deliveries from the United Statesto NATO, but there was some kind of a misunderstanding between the upper reachesof the Carter Administration and some of the other NATO countries, so while theywere having highlevel discussions, no financial instruments exchanged hands.
"They finally came to terms on the financial end of it, but by that timethe stuff [helicopters] had been removed from the loading docks and warehouses."
"So, they were gone?"
Mike: "They were gone."
"To North Korea?"
Mike: "Into storage in Europe. Later they got sold to North Korea, andother places. It was hotter than hell ..."
"Where in Europe, do you know?"
Mike: "Well, I don't want to go into it on the phone [from jail], but Iknow the whole story behind it. While it was in storage, everbody and theirbrother was trying to buy the stuff and the price got jacked way up. Casey'sfaction and Carlucci and those guys, they wanted it all, wanted to screw Bob andhis guys, and Bob made an alliance with somebody else for the stuff ..." "Who?"
"Well, later with Mike McManus in the White House." (McManuswas assistant to President Reagan, and on the Board of Directors of F.I.D.C.O.with Nichols).
"Why did they call upon Nichols to do this? What was his connection?"
Mike: "Bob had been doing errands for them for years ..."
"Who in particular?"
Mike: "Bob was working under Larry Kern basically. And Ellen's father[Nichols' wife] was somewhere in there ..."
"Was he working for the NSC at that time?"
Mike: "Just the CIA. He was just doing contracttype work. He was good at what he did. Whatever objectives were given tohim, Bob always achieved them. You know, he has an impeccable track record ..."
In a subsequent interview with Robert Booth Nichols, I asked him about thehelicopter deal. Nichols confirmed that he had, indeed, participated in theshipment of the helicopters to Europe through the CIA.
In news interviews, Wackenhut had denied association with Michael Riconosciuto,yet in Michael's files, I found a letter written on Meridian Arms letterhead,dated February 10, 1984, from Robert Booth Nichols to Dr. Harry Fair referringto the Wackenhut visit to Pickitinny Arsenal in May, 1981. Nichols remindedDr. Fair of the demonstration at Pickitinny in which "Michael Riconosciuto[had] discussed electrostatic heat transfer augmentation in a wide range ofapplications ... and demonstrated control of heat in electric discharge."
This letter was significant in that it confirmed that RiconosciutoHAD in fact accompanied Peter Zokosky and Robert Frye, Vice President ofWackenhut, to the Pickitinny Arsenal to demonstrate the above mentionedtechnology.
******
The crux of the Wackenut involvement in arms development and shipments throughvarious sources, including Peter Zokosky, Robert Booth Nichols, JohnVanderwerker, and others, was tied irrevocably to the Reagan administration'sefforts to aid the Nicaraguan Contras.
A Special Operations Report emanating from the Riverside, California,District Attorney's office which was sent to John Cohen, investigator for theHouse Judiciary Committee on Inslaw, provided indisputable proof that Wackenhutsold arms to the Contras.
The Special Operations Intelligence Report entitled, "Nicaraguans and EarlBrian at Lake Cahuilla 9/10/81" described a meeting held between twogroups, the Nicaraguans and Wackenhut/Cabazon officials, at a countyowned policefiring range at Lake Cahuilla in Riverside County.
According to the surveillance report, the purpose of the meeting was "totest a new night vision device and weapons. All [the] weapons tested weresemiautomatic. [A} new sniper rifle tested was a 50 caliber with a 308 bullet."
The report went on to note that "some automatic weapons were present, butall had necessary permits through Meridian Arms. Meridian Arms [is]owned by Michael Riconosciuto, Robert Booth Nichols (norelation to John Phillip Nichols), andDon Oliver former Undersheriff of San Diego County. Meeting andtesting took about one hour, then all parties left."
Police officers had been placed around the surrounding area in asurveillance/protection type mode. Each of the six Indio police officersparticipating in the range surveillance were named individually in the report.
The license plate numbers of each car that arrived on the scene was included inthe Report along with the names and identification of everyone who attended thedemonstration. Some of those names and I.D.'s were:
"Michael Riconosciuto Researcher for Cabazon Indians."
"Peter Zokosky President of Armtech Coachella."
"John D. Vanderwerker and a couple of his friends Vanderwerker, CIA Research Director for CIA [for] 8 years."
"Earl Brian Wisconsin businessman and CIA employee."
"Two Nicaraguan Generals Eden Pastora, Commander Zero and JoseCurdel, Commander Alpha."
"Raul Arana Central Caribbean research procurement front for liberationof Nicaragua (PreContra days)."
"John Phillip Nichols Cabazon Indian Manager."
"Wayne Reeder Builder/Developer""Jimmy Hughes Security Chief Cabazon Indians"
"Art Welmas Tribal Chairman of Cabazon Indians."
"Scott Wesley United States Army."
"Honduran Telephone Company Military connection network in SouthernHemisphere." And others.
The surveillance report indicated that Wayne Reeder and Earl Brian arrivedtogether in a 1981 White Rolls Royce, License Plate Number OK 2XG2302. The twoNicaraguan Generals arrived in a 1981 Honda, License Plate Number AZ AFM877.
A newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times, dated May 16, 1991, entitled, "NoriegaPapers Claim CIASent Him Millions," by Mike Clary, reported that General ManualNoriega, Panama's former strongman leader, was paid more than $11 millionfrom a CIA slush fund. A 107page Noriega defense document contended thatNoriega once warned the CIA to put an end to cocaine shipments to the UnitedStates that were being used to raise funds for the Contras in Nicaragua.
Noriega, who was scheduled to go on trial for drug smuggling on July 22, maintainedthat planes carrying arms to Nicaraguan rebels returned to the United Statesloaded with illegal drugs. It was clearly a guns for drugs policy, he said.
The article concluded that "Noriega served as a conduit for cashpayments from the CIA to onetime antiSandinista leader EDENPASTORA."
So, in 1981, Eden Pastora attended the Wackenhut nightvision gogglesdemonstration in Indio with numerous CIAemployees in attendance, and ten years later, the L.A. Times reported thatPastora was a recipient of cash payments, via Noriega, from the CIA.
******
I believe it is safe to theorize at this point that the various tentacles of theOctopus heretofore outlined were used to develop and ship arms to variouscountries such as Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and other thirdworld countries in exchange for cocaine and heroin. These countries certainlydidn't have the funds to pay with cash. And it is possible that The Company wasin fact the mechanism used to distribute the drugs after entry into the UnitedStates.
The reader may be wondering how I obtained a copy of the abovementioned "SpecialOperations [surveillance] Report." I had requested a copy of it from boththe Riverside District Attorney's office and John Cohen, investigator for theHouse Judiciary Committee on Inslaw, but the report was confidential and neitherwould send me a copy.
I then called Peter Zokosky and asked him to corroborate the report's existence. He not only corroborated it, but he offered to send me a copy. When I askedhow HE had obtained a copy, he said, "I asked a friend in Washington D.C.to go into the [House Judiciary] vault and make a copy for me."
I received a copy shortly thereafter from Peter Zokosky. When I called JohnCohen and mentioned I'd obtained a copy, he said he was aware that "someone"had gotten past the guards and into the House vault. He didn't know what hadbeen taken, but he validated the document in my possession.
CHAPTER 11
Michael Riconosciuto had some, if not all, of the answers tothe gene splicing technology that Zokosky and Wackenhut had attempted to sell tothe Army weapons division in 1983, and later fronted to the Japanese, throughMeridian International Logisitcs, in 1988.
I felt that time was of the essence in uncovering the nature of this technology,so I pushed Riconosciuto to talk about it. "It lookslike Earl Brian, Sir Denis Kendall, Hercules Research, Wackenut, Zokosky and BobNichols were all involved in the same biotechnological agenda ..."
Michael answered, "You got it."
I asked, "Are they connected, or are they all individually working on theirown projects?"
Michael: "Yes."
"How?"
Michael: "Check out Bio-Rad Laboratories. Their internationalheadquarters are on half of the property that used to be the Hercules plant, inHercules, California. Do you understand what I'm saying? BioRad makes the mosttoxic biological and radioactive compounds known to man. And they're nowlocated in the town of Hercules. BioRad Industrial Park. That building oftheirs, the headquarters, doesn't look like much, but it goes 20 stories downinto the ground. It's a huge underground complex.
"See, BioRad was the flagship company, and then they [Earl Brian] startedInfoTech, and then they got mired in lawsuits and then Hadron was formed to be acutout parent corporation, you know, just to be a firewall from law suits ..."
I asked, "What do they do at BioRad?"
"Well, they make the most hazardous biological and nuclear chemicals in theworld, for medical research."
"Who do they sell it to?"
"Well, front line researchers all over the world. BioRad is the singlesource for this stuff ... actually Aldrich Chemical sells it, there's about 100companies, but BioRad is head and shoulder above all of them by a factor of tenon many things like Cytotoxins."
I remembered reading about Cytotoxins in the Wackenhut/Cabazon biologicalwarfare letters to Dr. Harry Fair.
Michael continued ... "You look at Cytotoxic TLymphocytes. You go ask anymedical professional what they're doing on the leading edge of research there? What the full implications to humanity are, OK?"
I wanted clarification from Michael, so I answered, "It looks to me likeresearch on a cure for cancer."
Michael took the bait. "Go ask a professional. I'd rather have you hearit from a collateral source other than from me."
"Well, give me some indication ..."
Michael responded hesitantly, "It would have been Hitler's wet dream. It's selective to such a degree that it's awesome. With the appropriate geneticmaterial, you can wipe out whole segments of humanity. There's no stopping it."
"I asked, "You mean you could selectively wipe out certain races ofpeople?"
"Sure."
"Jeez."
Mike continued ..."And, also, from the beneficial side, you can veryspecifically wipe out disease cells, cancer cells. Look at the patents. Lookat Immunix (phonetic sp.) Corporation, look at the patent portfolios on BioRad."
"Who's BioRad's main buyer?"
"Well, the National Institute of Health, you know, every hospital in theworld buys BioRad products."
I had read about Sir Denis Kendall, the famous M16 British intelligence officerduring World War II, in "Who's Who in America," 1989 issue. Kendallhad worked with Michael in some, as yet, undefined capacity. Bobby Riconosciutohad noted to me that Kendall and Ted Gunderson had counseled Oliver North priorto his testimony to Congress. Kendall was also heavily involved in arms andbiotechnology, according to Michael Riconosciuto.
"Who's Who" described Denis William Kendall as a "medicalelectronic equipment company executive," born in Halifax, Yorkshire,England on May 27, 1903. Kendall came to the United States in 1923, wasnaturalized in 1957. His background included being a consultant to the Pentagonon high velocity small arms from 1940 to 1945. He was listed on Churchill's WarCabinet Gun Board from 194145. He was later executive vice president ofBrunswick Ordnance Plant in New Jersey from 1952 to 1956. From 1961 to 1973,became president of Dynapower Medonics in Los Angeles, and chief executive ofKendall Medical International, Inc. in Los Angeles in 1973.
In 1983, the same year that Wackenhut was offering biological warfare agents tothe Army, Sir Denis Kendall was the chairman of Steron Products, Inc. His clubmembership listings indicated he was a 32 degree Shriner in the PacificPalisades (California) Masons and a member of the Religious Society of Friends(Quaker), amongst other things.
I asked Riconosciuto, "What was Sir Denis Kendall'sconnection ...?"
Michael broke in ..."He's involved in all of it. You might be able to geta handle on Kendall through Tiny Roland, a subsidiary of which is Penguin Books. And the other goodoleboy in the nail work is Octav Botnar. Then there'sWolfgang Fosog (phonetic sp.), Renee Hanner, Count Otto Linkee (phonetic sp.)..."
"How did you meet these guys?"
"I was introduced through Joe Snell and Norman Davis. Snell was consideredthe father of industrial design. He was an industrial design artist who did thelogos for Coca Cola, Chanel No. 5, Life Magazine. Norm Davis owned(unintelligble) brewery until he sold to Carling. My dad was his advertisingand public relations man. My dad didn't know Kendall personally, but Norm Davisdid. I met Kendall through Davis."
"Do you know what Kendall is into currently?"
"Sure."
"What would that be?"
"There's a pharmaceutical company in Los Angeles. There's a medicalelectronics company ... Ted Shannon in Los Angeles supervises all the productionfor that stuff. It's very exotic, far out stuff. And he's still in acontrolling position in Brunswick [Ordnance] Corporation."
I asked Riconosciuto, "How close was BioRad to yourfather's plant, Hercules?"
Mike answered, "It's on the same property!"
"Mike, when you were conducting research at Hercules, you were incubatingsomething in fish tanks there. What was it?"
Michael's response had a nervous edge to it. "Where ... where are yougetting this?"
Riconosciuto was unaware at that point that his hidden fileswere in my possession. "I'm just thumbing through some old documents ..."
" ... Those documents aren't supposed to exist any more. They've all beendestroyed."
"By whom?"
"Well, it was a matter of routine, you know ... they COULDN'T exist ...""
"Uh, huh."
"That's what they're doing with all this stock manipulation, you know. Thebiologicals are what got them in the door at such a high level in Japan ..."
I sensed Riconosciuto's possible involvement in the project,his reluctance to discuss it. But he believed I had "all" the recordsand he stammered on. " ... That paperwork trail shouldn't exist. I meanit was kept in a safe place, and then it was shredded. And the only people thathad any direct knowledge of it was [Peter] Zokosky and Earl Barber, JohnNichols, Bob Nichols, you know, those people ..."
Michael was attempting to disengage himself from any responsibility for theresearch.
" ... If there are any records left, those are their records, not any ofours [at Hercules], because I'm sure all of ours were destroyed."
I asked, "Why did you destroy them?"
"Well, do you understand the nature of this technology? You're talking invague, general terms."
I answered, "I have an idea ..."
Michael interjected, " ... Horrible things. You know, it makes what theNazi's did to the Jews look mild. The Romanian Project, do your homework onthat project, you know it's a horrible germ warfare project ..."
"Uh, huh."
" ... And the Soviets were involved in it, and we countered it with our ownmethods."
I noted to Michael that Bill Turner, the man who had met Danny Casolaroin the parking lot of the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn (with Hughes Aircraftdocuments) on the day before his death, was currently in jail. Turner hadwritten a letter in which he talked about an Iraqi from the Iraqi Embassy whowas facilitating the transportation of biological warfare items to Iraq.
Michael responded, "Listen, Saddam Hussein introduced chemical andbiological warfare agents to all his top military leaders. And he becameenamored with this technology. He's been on a binge of sorts. Even when he wasin the secret police of Iraq, he used chemical means on a wide scale ..."
I asked, "But none of these various entities that I've just named weredealing directly with Iraq, were they?"
"No, no. Not directly. All they needed was a VENDORS LIST."
Riconosciuto noted that the shipments were all ITAR(International Trafficking of Armaments) regulated chemicals, electronics,communications equipment, anything that was on the ITAR list.
******
In August, 1991, the Financial Post ran a story on Dr. Earl Brian. At thattime, Brian's main company, Infotechnology Inc. of New York was bankrupt, andits subsidiary United Press International (UPI) was on the verge of collapse.
According to the Financial Post, the Securities and Exchange Commission and theFBI were investigating Brian, and a flurry of affidavits filed in the InslawInc. scandal accused him of selling bootleg copies of the computer company'scasetracking software (PROMIS) to the intelligence services of Canada, Israel,and Iraq.
Brian was referred to as "Cash" in the intelligence community andreportedly had a close relationship with the CIA. He was a highlydecorated combat surgeon in the Vietnam war in the late 1960's, allegedlyworking in the controversial Phoenix Program. This, according to a 1993 "Wired,"premier issue, entitled "INSLAW, The Inslaw Octopus" by Richard L.Fricker. Wrote Fricker, "After a stint in Vietnam, where he [Brian] workedas a combat physician in the unit that supplied air support for OperationPhoenix, Brian returned to California ..."
In 1970, Ronald Reagan appointed Brian director of the California Department ofHealth Care Services. He was only 27 and destined to remain a part of Reagan'sinner sanctum. U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources linked Brian's name to thesale of weapons to Iran in the 1980's. "He was serving U.S. intelligencepeople, " said Ari BenMenashe, a former Israeli intelligence officer whoclaims he met Brian several times, once in Tel Aviv. Brian allegedly had moreto do with the financial end of the transactions.
Other publications listed Brian's holdings in the rapidly developingbiotechnology field. The hightech empire of Dr. Brian was a grab bag offledgling companies involved in all the hot areas lasers, cancer detectionkits, bloodtesting products, genetic engineering, computer programs,telecommunications and investment databases.
One of Brian's companies, Hadron, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia, which,incidentally, both Michael Riconosciuto and Robert Nicholsmaintained Peter Viedenieks was involved in, was a laser manufacturer andcomputer services company.
According to Bill Hamilton, president of Inslaw, Hadron had attempted to buyInslaw in 1983. Dominic Laiti, Hadron's chairman at the time, had phonedHamilton out of the blue and said Hadron intended to become a dominant vendor ofsoftware to law enforcement agencies. Would Hamilton like to sell? Hamiltondemurred. "We have ways of making you sell," Laiti is said to havereplied.
Laiti, in an interview in 1988 with the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations,said he didn't remember calling Hamilton. Nevertheless, Hamilton said hebelieves his rejection of Hadron on that day in 1983 triggered an attempt by theDepartment of Justice to put Inslaw out of business, or at least bankrupt thesmall, Washingtonbased software maker.
At that time, Peter Viedenieks was the administrator of the contract betweenInslaw and the DOJ. Within a few months of Hadron's call, the Department ofJustice, citing contract violations, stopped making payments on Inslaw's $10million deal to install PROMIS software in its 20 largest U.S. attorney'soffices nationwide. (PROMIS stands for Prosecutor's Management InformationSystem.)
Inslaw, starved of cash, was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in1985. Hamilton sued the DOJ for theft of property in 1986.
In February 1988, Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge George Bason ordered the DOJ topay Inslaw $7 million in licensing and legal fees. The DOJ, Bason ruled, had "stolenPROMIS from Inslaw through trickery, fraud and deceit," then tried to putthe company out of business.
The DOJ appealed Bason's ruling, but it was upheld. However in May, the U.SCourt of Appeals reversed the decision on a technicality. Hamilton believed Dr.Brian and his old crony, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, were behind theattempt to bankrupt and liquidate Inslaw. When Inslaw refused to sell toHadron, Hamilton believed the DOJ tried to bankrupt and liquidate Inslaw toforce the sale of its assets, perhaps to Hadron, at firesale prices.
Several journalistic publications accused Dr. Brian of profiting from theJustice Department's theft of the PROMIS software. According to a number ofsources, Brian traveled the world during the mideighties, selling the datamanagement program to intelligence and law enforcement agencies the world over.
Brian's role, if any, in the October Surprise was less well publicized. Theprimary source thus far for the allegations that Brian was involved, is formerIsraeli intelligence officer Ari BenMenashe. Menashe alleged that Earl Brianhelped make one of the first contacts between Republicans and the government ofIran in 1980. BenMenashe claimed Brian accompanied Robert C. "Bud"McFarlane to Tehran in late February 1980. The trip came shortly after the NewHampshire primary, when insiders knew that there would be a ReaganBush ticket.
Earl Brian and McFarlane, then an aide to Senator John Tower (RTX), allegedlycontacted Iranians with whom Brian had conducted business prior to the fall ofthe Shah. According to BenMenashe, one of these was Mehdi Bazargan, onetimePrime Minister, and in February 1980 still closely connected to the Iranianleadership.
An old 1975 Sacramento Bee newspaper article, dated January 12, 1975, reportedthat Earl Brian, called the Genius Doctor by his friends, was out to get alittle "of that Middle Eastern oil money." The article went on tosay that Brian was "helping to write a proposal on health care for Iran."
Brian, then at the University of Southern California, was working with SamuelTibbetts of the California Lutheran Hospital Association, which in turn wasworking with a Chicago group. The Chicago group was not named and details ofthe proposal were not known. It is significant that Brian left his post one yearbefore this proposal was written, in 1974, as Governor Ronald Reagan's Healthand Welfare secretary. It was not known whether the contract with the Iraniangovernment was ever consumated.
Another interesting facet of Brian's background included his relationship withSenator Terry Sanford (DN.C.). Prior to his election, Sanford had been theattorney representing Earl Brian in his 1985 takeover bid for United PressInternational (UPI). Sanford was also instrumental in winning Brian anappointment to the board of Duke University Medical School. At that time,Sanford was the president of Duke University.
Dr. Brian ultimately directed his energies towards biological technology. Another of his companies, Biotech Capital Corporation of New York, became 50%owner of American Cytogenetics, which was planning in 1982 to create asubsidiary to engage in genetic research. One notable investor in Biotech,when it went public in 1981, was Edwin Meese. Today, AmericanCytogenetics in North Hollywood, California, conducts Pap tests for cervicalcancer. It also tests tissue samples for cancer and related diseases. Sales in1985 were $3.4 million.
Hadron, of which Dr. Brian was a director, provided engineering and computerconsulting services, along with telecommunications products. Sales were $25.7million in 1985. Clinical Sciences, Inc. sells biochemical products used fordiagnostic tests and antibody analysis. Dr. Brian was also a director of thiscompany. Sales in 1986 were about $4 million.
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Michael Riconosciuto had stated that he believed Earl Brianheld a financial interest in Bio-Rad Laboratories in Hercules, California. Iwas unable to locate Brian's name in Board directories, but obtained somedocuments on an OEM agreement between California Integrated Diagnostics, Inc., awholly owned subsidiary of the InFerGene Company, ("Manufacturer") aDelaware corporation, and BioRad Laboratories, Inc. ("Customer") aDelaware corporation, which listed the terms under which the manufactuer wouldprovide the customer with various products.
Various exhibits outlined the product price list, delivery schedules,engineering specifications, etc. What made this agreement significant was anewspaper article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 31, 1991,entitled, "S.F. Firm Faces Toxics Charges." A criminal complaint hadbeen filed against a law firm, an investment banking house and several lawyersand financiers involved with InFerGene Company for abandoning its toxic wastesafter filing for bankruptcy.
According to an affidavit filed by the Solano County District Attorney's officeat the Fairfield Municipal Court, after InFerGene was evicted from the premises,a county inspector found several hundred containers including petri dishes andvials marked "chlamydia, herpes, and HSV2." Many others contained "bacteriaof unknown etiology."
A Vacaville newspaper reported that on December 7, an environmental healthinspector found 36 55gallon drums of radioactive Butanol containing "beefmucosa." They were improperly stored and lacked labels showing content,hazard warning or the owner's business address. A followup report made by theenvironmental health office noted that a Halloween 1990 investigation into asmell was traced to a door with a radiation warning on it. The department hadrecommended that the lab doors be sealed and the pipe opening sealed.
In all, the county Environmental Health Department had responded four times tocomplaints about smells from the InFerGene labs in the Benicia Industrial Parkwell before it shut down in February. One complaint listed persistent smellscausing nausea, a problem also cited by others still working in the area.
Founded in 1983, InFerGene specialized in DNA technology, making diagnostictest kits for AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases.
My research led me to another article on Bay Area bio-labs. In June, 1991, theSan Francisco Examiner published a story entitled, "Germ War Lab AlarmsBerkeley" which noted the community of West Berkeley "was home tothe Defense Department's one and only supplier of antiplague vaccine." On December 28, 1990, four maintenance men made an unauthorized entranceinto a room at Cutter Biological which housed Yersinia pestis, commonly known as"The Black Plague," which once killed a quarter of the population ofEurope 650 years ago.
There was no harm to the workers and no release of the live bacteria, but if anaccident had occurred, all of Berkeley would have been wiped out.
******
It is impossible NOT to compare the two incidents in the San Francisco bay areawith the Wackenhut proposal to develop biological warfare viruses on the CabazonIndian reservation in Indio, California. In order to develop vaccines, whichsounds innocuous enough, the virus must first be created. In the case ofbiological warfare viruses, the disease would have to be highly sophisticatedindeed, if it were to be used in military applications. Certainly nothing thatwould be easily recognizable, if it escaped the laboratory, to a layman medicaldoctor in Indio, California, or for that matter at any Indian reservation in theUnited States.
Any type of biological research on an Indian reservation would not be subject toscrutiny by the federal government because Indian reservations are sovereignnations. Nevertheless, if a virus DID escape a secret government installationat an Indian reservation, the reservation would provide an ideally "isolatedenvironment" for further study (by a government entity) of affectedsubjects or victims under quarantine. Not a very pretty picture. Yet this wasthe exact nature of the proposal by Wackenhut to Dr. Harry Fair of the Armyweapons division.
For the first time, I began to notice various "mysterious" illnessescropping up in the media. I'm sure there have been unidentified diseasesthroughout history, but for the first time, I was conscious of what was writtenabout them.
The first to capture my attention was the sudden deaths of twelve Navajo Indiansin New Mexico and Arizona. A June 3, 1993, Department of Health Servicesinteroffice memorandum distributed to public health laboratory directorsthroughout California labeled the virus a "Mystery Illness in New Mexicoand Arizona." The memo asked, "Is it in California too?"
On June 2, 1993, New Mexico officials had reported a total of 19 cases,summarized as follows: Of the 19 cases, 12 were Native American Indians. Twelve died. All of the victims were residents within a 100 mile area innorthwest New Mexico and Northeast Arizona. The symptoms included fulminantrespiratory distress which killed within hours. There was "NO IDENTIFIABLECAUSE." This was printed in capital letters.
Under "Etiology" (origin), the memorandum noted, "[The illness]remains a mystery despite extensive testing at University of New MexicoHospital, New Mexico Department of Health, and CDC. If etiology were plague,anthrax, tularemia, some cases should have been identified by cultures/stains..."
Oddly, nationwide media printed stories stating that the illnesses were causedby rat droppings, yet the actual documents from the Department of HealthServices in Berkeley, California, confidentially given to me by a laboratorydirector in June 1993, mentioned nothing about rat droppings.
I later read about a mystery illness in TIME magazine, November 22, 1993 issueentitled, "The Gulf Gas Mystery," which reported that American troopsin the Persian Gulf, upon returning home, were complaining of chronic diarrhea,aches in all the joints, and difficulty breathing. Several veterans and theirfamilies testified before a congressional committee that the Defense Departmenthad ignored their complaints, and the Veterans Affairs Department downplayed theaffair. The veterans themselves were convinced they had been exposed to "diseasecausingchemical agents" while in the Persian Gulf. Eightthousand veteransregistered their symptoms with the U.S. government, thus labeling the disease "GulfWar Syndrome" (GWS).
Ultimately, the disease was determined by Major General Ronald Blanck, commanderof the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to be "multiple chemicalsensitivity," syndrome. A board of inquiry was created headed by JoshuaLederberg of Rockefeller University, a Nobelprizewinning expert on rare andemerging diseases. But, noted TIME, "It is up to the Pentagon to bridgethe credibility gap that seems to have sprouted over the strange new syndrome." It was not until 1996 that the Pentagon admitted GWS may have been caused byexposure to bombed chemical/biological plants in Iraq.
By far the most provocative incident occurred in February, 1994. TheSpokesmanReview, out of Spokane, Washington, printed a story on August 9, 1994,entitled, "Victim of Mysterious Fumes Seeks Investigative Reports." In Riverside, California,the county in which the Cabazon Indian/Wackenhut facility is located,Dr. Julie Gorchynski, an emergency room doctor, was overcome by mysterious fumeswhile examining a woman who later died.
"This is a bona fide, genuine medical mystery, and we intend to solve it,"said Russell S. Kussman, attorney for Dr. Gorchynski. Gorchynski suffered fromosteonecrosis, avascular necrosis of bone, posttraumatic stress disorder,shortness of breath, restrictive lung disease and other ailments, as a result ofexposure to the dying cancer patient on February 19th. Coincidentally, hersymptoms matched those of GWS.
Later, in the same newspaper, dated September 3, 1994, another article emergedregarding the Riverside mishap. The bizarre episode had sent six emergency roomworkers to hospitals after being exposed to fumes emitting from patient GloriaRamirez's blood samples drawn on February 19, 1994.
According to the state's 15page report, 11 people reported smelling an unusualodor after blood was drawn from Ramirez. After five collapsed and the emergencyroom was evacuated, 23 people complained of at least one symptom, most commonlyheadache, dizziness, and nausea. More serious complaints included muscle spasmsand breathing disruptions. "Despite extensive epidemiologic, toxicologicand environmental investigations, the cause of the outbreak of symptoms amongemergency room staff members ... remains unknown," the report concluded.
Dr. Gorchynski's lawyer stated that it could only be a toxin. "It'sphysically impossible for Julie to have had the symptoms, and not just thesymptoms, the laboratory findings and test results that showed ... clearly Dr.Gorchynski was poisoned that day."
But epidemiology experts could find no culprit to explain the bizarre episode. The Department of Health Services ultimately described the incident as anoutbreak of "mass sociogenic illness," perhaps triggered by an odor.
I could not help wondering if the deceased Gloria Ramirez was an Indian, or hadever been on the Cabazon reservation in Indio? I later learned she had beenreceiving experimental cancer treatments at a clinic in Mexico.
J.M., Ted Gunderson's live-in partner, on more than one occasion had noted thatshe held in her possession a photograph of Gunderson and Sir Denis Kendall,the British M-I6 officer who owned bio-labs in Los Angeles, standing in front ofa Mexican cancer clinic. According to J.M., the photo had been used in anadvertisement seeking nurses to work at the clinic. Without a copy of thephoto, I was unable to determine if it "might" be the same clinicwhich Gloria Ramirez attended prior to her death.
******
In February 1993, I was contacted by a U.S Customs agent who wasconducting an inquiry into the whole Inslaw, Peter Viedenieks, Wackenhut affair. The man had flown in to California from back east to interview Mike and BobbyRiconosciuto and other witnesses associated with the Inslawcase. Someone, whom he would not identify, advised him to contact me.
On February 5th, he and his partner drove to my home in Mariposaand spent the day. I provided him with an affidavit relative to Riconosciuto'sattempted trade into the Witness Protection Program. The affidavitcontained mostly drug-related information on The Company and Robert BoothNichols' connection to Michael Abbell (DOJ) and the Cali Cartel. The agentalso obtained a tape-recorded statement, under oath, relative to my findings andleft with an armload of documents. (Two years later, in 1995, Abbell wasindicted for money laundering for the Cali Cartel and drug related charges).
He called frequently after that (1993), once from a phone booth in the dead ofnight after visiting Langley, Virginia. We subsequently struck up aninvestigative collaboration of sorts. On September 3, 1993, I received acall from him in Palm City, Florida. He had interviewed Robert Chasen, formerExecutive Vice President, Systems and Services Group, of Wackenhut Corporationin Coral Gables. Chasen, 70, was still senior consultant at the Floridafacility, but was allegedly dying of cancer and weighed less than 100 poundsat the time of the interview.
Because he (Chasen) had once been Commissioner of Customs in WashingtonD.C., he felt a rapport with this young agent and spoke candidly about hisexperience with Wackenhut in Indio.
Of significance, was Chasen's confirmation of the horrendous properties of the "virus"which he encountered at the Indio facility. He said, "Wackenhut wasrunning amuck." Robert Nichols and Peter Zokosky had attempted to sell thebiological warfare technology (developed in cow uterises) through Wackenhut,using Robert Frye, Vice President of the Indio facility, as the front man.
According to Chasen, Frye went behind his [Chasen's] back in facilitatingthe project; when Chasen learned of the project, he shut it down. (Chasensupervised the Indio facility from Coral Gables, Florida.) Because of theprojects underway at the Cabazon reservation, Chasen chose not to step footon the property, but instead met with the Indio executives in Palm Springs.
In other respects, Chasen was not so candid. Though the Customs agent saidChasen "said a lot of derogatory things about Wackenhut in Indio," hedid not admit to knowing Peter Viedenieks. The agent's investigation had ledhim to believe that the PROMIS software WAS stolen, and Viedenieks WAS involvedin the theft, but he did not have enough evidence to take his case to court.
Chasen was evasive on the subject of PROMIS, though his background wouldindicate that he must have been knowledgeable about it. He had been a SpecialAgent in the Washington D.C. Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1943 to 1952. From 1952 to 1968, he was Vice President and President, respectively, of ITTCommunications Systems in Chicago, Illinois and Paramus, New Jersey. He becameCommissioner of U.S. Customs in Washington D.C. from 1969 to 1977 the same timespan that Peter Viedenieks was in and out of Customs.
I called Dick Russell (author of "The Man Who Knew Too Much") to actas a "cutout" for me and interview Chasen. At that point, I didn'twant to expose myself to Wackenhut, so Russell agreed. When Russell calledback, he said Chasen didn't trust Robert Booth Nichols. Wackenhut had "runa check" on Nichols and couldn't learn anything about his background. This had bothered Chasen, but, he said, Robert Frye and Dick Wilson were "dazzled"with Nichols.
Chasen believed Nichols worked for the CIA, said hewas a "slippery guy," and couldn't understand why Frye and Wilson weredazzled by Nichols for such a long time. Reportedly, George Wackenhut likedFrye and Dick Wilson, but did not trust Riconosciuto orNichols. Michael Riconosciuto had been introduced to Chasen as a "specialistengineer in weapons."
Chasen acknowledged the biological technology introduced by Nichols and Zokosky,saying it had been presented to him as something that could "createanything from chicken soup to long range missiles." When he learned ofthe properties of the technology, he halted it immediately. When pressed forfurther details, he added reluctantly, "It was the kind of thing your minderases."
Regarding the Cabazons, Chasen said he felt an affinity with Arthur Welmas,Chairman of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, because his [Chasen's] wife ispart Cherokee. He noted that he sympathized with their situation and wanted toprotect them.
Perhaps he protected them more than he realized when he shut down the Wackenhutproposal to the Army to develop biological viruses (and vaccines) on the Cabazonreservation.
******
One year later, on September 5, 1994, TIME magazine published an article on page63 entitled, "A Deadly Virus Escapes," in which a Yale Universityresearcher was exposed to the deadly Brazilian "Sabia" virus when acontainer spinning on a highspeed centrifuge cracked, causing the potentiallylethal tissue to spatter. Fortunately, the researcher was wearing a lab gown,latex gloves and a mask, as required by federal guidelines.
Every surface of the area was scrubbed with bleach, all instruments weresterilized, then wiped down again with alcohol. Having decided the danger wasover, he didn't bother to report the accident, and a few days later he left townto visit an old friend in Boston. Soon after the researcher returned to Yale,he bagan running a fever that reached 103 F.
An experimental antiviral drug eventually stopped the illness, but the man hadexposed five people, including two children, before being confined to a hospitalisolation ward, and another 75 or so healthcare workers after that.
The Sabia virus is particularly frightening because it kills in such a grislyway. Characteristic symptoms are high fever, uncontrolled bleeding in virtuallyevery organ and finally shock. The liver turns yellow and decomposes. Bloodcan leak from literally every bodily orifice, including the eyes and the poresof the skin. Sabia was never seen before 1990, when a female agriculaturalengineer checked into a hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with a high fever. Within days she was dead.
Fortunately, in the Yale University incident, none of the potential victims diedor showed any evidence of symptoms. A book and movie on the Sabia virus'scounterpart, the lethal Ebola virus from Central Africa, which is as deadly andas gruesome as AIDS, yet has an incubation period of only one week, was underwayat the time and was later released in 1994.
The book, "The Hot Zone," described a victim who contracted Ebola. TIME wrote, "His eyes turn red and his head begins to ache. Red spotsappear on his skin and, spreading quickly, become a rash of tiny blisters, andthen the flesh rips. Blood begins to flow from every one of the body'sorifices. The victim coughs up black vomit, sloughing off parts of his tongue,throat and windpipe. His organs fill with blood and fail. He suffers seizures,splattering virussaturated blood that can infect anyone nearby. Within a fewdays the victim dies, and as the virus destroys his remaining cells, much of histissue actually liquifies ..."
The Ebola virus, found in the rainforest regions of Central Africa, once causedan outbreak in 1976 through villages near the Ebola River in Zaire, killing asmany as 90% of those infected. Such dangerous viruses may seem a distantmenace, wrote TIME, but "The Hot Zone" details a 1989 Ebola crisisthat occurred in the Reston, Virginia Primate Quarantine Unit, run by a companythat imports and sells monkeys for use in research laboratories.
When an unusual number of monkeys originating from the Philippines died, tissuesamples were sent to a U.S. Army research center. There a technician identifiedthe strands as either Ebola Zaire or something very close. Even more alarming,the virus found in Reston, Virginia, unlike the African one, could betransmitted through the air. Frantic phone calls were made to Virginia healthauthorites and to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. An Army team,wearing space suits, went into the Reston building and killed 450 survivingmonkeys, then placed them in plastic bags for safe disposal. Before thebuilding was boarded up, the Army sterilized every square inch of the interior. No humans were infected with the virus, but Richard Preston, the author of "TheHot Zone," wrote, "A tiny change in its genetic code, and it might[have] zoomed through the human race."
A rival 1995 film on the same subject entitled, "Outbreak," directedby Wolfgang Peterson, also focused on the Ebola virus.
CHAPTER 12
It was time to interview Robert Booth Nichols. I was communicating regularlywith Ted Gunderson and one day, on an impulse, I asked him for Nichols'stelephone number. Gunderson hesitated, then gave me the telephone number of a "relative"of Nichols' in Los Angeles, stating that he really couldn't give out Robert'shome number without first consulting him.
I called the relative and left a message for Nichols to return my call. Thecall came back on December 31, 1991. There was an intriguing internationalflavor to Nichols' voice. The tone was hostile but polite, and inquiring. Essentially, Nichols wanted to know why I was communicating with MichaelRiconosciuto?
I explained to him that I was writing a book on government sanctioned drugtrafficking and Michael had information to offer on local corruption. Duringthe conversation, which lasted about 45 minutes, Nichols admitted that he workedfor FIDCO and used the code word "Wa Latteral" for the operation inLebanon.
The following are some excerpts:
CM: "Do you know anything about Michael Riconosciuto inLebanon?"
Nichols: "Never."
CM: "He [Michael] talked about an interesting operation in Lebanon."
Nichols: "What was it called, the operation? I've heard of quite a fewprojects in Lebanon. If I've heard of it, I'll tell you."
CM: "Well, what was the code name of the one that you heard about?"
Nichols: "Wa Latteral."
CM: "Wa Latteral? And what type of operation was that?"
Nichols: "Well, it was trading in two directions. Now what'syours?"
CM: "Same thing."
Nichols: "Wa Latteral? Yours is the same name?"
CM: "No. I've never heard that name before."
Nichols: "Well, what was the code word of the one Michael said he wasinvolved in?"
CM: "I would have to go over all of my notes, to tell you the truth. Itdidn't seem important at the time, so I don't have it off the top of my head ..."
Nichols: "What the project was, I can tell you very clearly, there'snothing secret about it now, was to develop an agenda whereby all sides, theMuslim and the Christian sides, would come to an agreement on a redevelopmentproject to where their respective areas would have the same capitalization, andthe same benefit to stop the fighting."
CM: "Did this include rebuilding of the infrastructure of Beirut?"
Nichols: "Very definitely."
CM: "Did this have anything to do with FIDCO?"
Nichols: "Uh, FIDCO was involved in it, right. That was an effortby that company, as I understood it ... the project was to make sure that bothsides developed building programs that were initiated concurrently and thedevelopment was fair and equitable to all sides, to stop the fighting." (Iwondered why an "arms dealer" wanted to stop the fighting in Lebanon?)
CM: "Was there ever any subsidiary of that corporation called Euramae?"
Nichols: "I never heard that name before."
CM: "Ted Gunderson gave me a huge manual on The Octopus ..."
Nichols: "In my opinion, to research anything of that magnitude you arelooking at -- it would require a lot of money and a lot of travel and a lot ofpatience. I don't think Ted Gunderson knows anything, personally. He'sdomestic. It's not his area."
CM: "Did you operate a telex company with him during the Olympic Games?"
Nichols: "Absolutely not. A telex company. Absolutely not. Oh, jeez. Did you ask Ted Gunderson that?"
CM: "Well, no, I didn't ..."
Nichols: "Well, you can't be shy. You have to ask questions, or else howdo you know?"
CM: "What did Danny Casolaro spend so much time on thephone with you for?"
Nichols: "Danny used to ask me different things. But Danny was more intothe names in Paris and Switzerland and -- Danny was investigating the wholeinternational situation. You have to spend a lot of money and do a lot oftraveling. Danny had said to me that he had a whole agenda worked out, youknow, where he was going to go and who he was going to see. And I mean it wasliterally a global trip ..."
Nichols said he believed Danny was murdered and did not commit suicide. Hebelieved Danny's death had to do with the international scene, someone Danny hadcontacted overseas.
I asked him, "Do you suppose his death had anything to do with the JusticeDepartment?"
Nichols answered, "I would say, `Time will tell. Time will tell.'"
I pressed Nichols about his civil suit against FBI agent Thomas Gates:
Nichols: "The activities that I've been involved with, I can tell you veryclearly, an effort was made for many years to benefit a lot of people thatwere involved in the corporation. That effort was destroyed by certainmoves [by agent Gates]. And it caused a great deal of hardship to myself andquite a few other people who are very angry about it. And we'll deal with thatmatter in court."
CM: "What was Gates investigating?"
Nichols said he wrote two stories for some Italian movie producers. "They were `sensitive' stories, about overseas. What I did, was Itook two little, very brief parts of two stories to copyright in the UnitedStates. And so they're very diluted, but enough for the copyrights.
"That's when I met the guy from Universal [studios], because he wanted thestories. And the French wanted the stories ... in 1987, but the stories haven'tchanged, they're still pertinent."
Gates had overheard the "pertinent" parts on the wiretap and initiatedan investigation. I made a mental note to try to convince Nichols at a laterdate to provide me with the manuscripts. But I didn't want to push him duringour first conversation.
******
I later asked a friend in Washingto D.C. to research Nichols' copyrights at theLibrary of Congress. There were indeed two stories copyrighted by Robert BoothNichols under the pseudonym of R.N. LeDevoilier. Perhaps he was unaware that across-reference would reveal his true identity.
The 20-page manuscript entitled "Acceptable Casualty," essentiallyoutlined gays and I.V. drug users as targets of bio-war by a cabal of militaryintelligence officers. In the story, a secret file, "C-911-Tuhnekaw,"revealed the origin of the first AIDS infection. Field research dated November12, 1977 originated from a Bay Area laboratory destroyed by fire in December1975. Assorted bio-labs were mentioned, one in Palo Alto, California. The heroof the story obtained the secret cure from "the Chosen Ones" andescaped to Singapore with his family.
Interestingly, the names of those involved included "Yutaka Okimoto"and "Lawrence Zokosky," the last names of which match those listed onNichols' "real life" corporation, Meridian International Logistics(MIL).
Nichols also copyrighted a 90-page James Bond type treatment entitled, "Decisionof Conscience," which described state-of-the-art electromagnetic technology(launchers) used to demolish a two-story concrete building. I later found thewords, "Decision of Conscience," written in Danny Casolaro'shandwritten notes also.
Nichols' secret desire to write about his exploits in the CIA had ledhim to contact Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America,through his (then) corporate partner Eugene Giaquinto. The three met at theBeverly Hills Hotel where Nichols attempted to sell Valenti manuscriptsdisclosing top secret CIA technology.
Nichols later said Valenti refused the manuscripts because they contained "classifiednational security information." (Valenti once served as assistant toPresident Lyndon B. Johnson).
******
During several phone conversations with reporter Jonathan Littman, I learnedthat he had communicated with Danny Casolaro on a regular basisprior to Danny's death. At the time, I wondered why Littman hadn't written astory on Danny, since he was one of the few reporters to have spoken extensivelywith him?
I would have that answer soon enough. My confidence in Littman nearly cost memy life. An incident which I am about to relate forced me to document thefollowing events, which I titled, "Vortex," and subsequentlyturned over to John Cohen, investigator for the House Judiciary Committee onInslaw. Cohen had strenuously advised me to send it to him as he feared for mylife. "Vortex" was also the "affidavit" I supplied to theCustoms Agent who interviewed me in February 1993.
During the course of our conversations, Littman had noted to me that he had aclose relationship with Robert Booth Nichols, Peter Zokosky and Ben Kalka of TheCompany. Littman also verified to me that he was in fact, Kalka's cousin,but he (Littman) was a secretive, noncommunicative individual and I didn't presshim for explanations. Kalka was currently serving time in prison for possessionof 900 pounds of methamphetamine.
Littman did, however, confide that Kalka hated Michael Riconosciutobecause Riconosciuto was responsible for Kalka's imprisonment. I described howformer Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Leighton appeared to have perjured himselfat Michael's trial, and asked Littman's opinion of that. Littman stated simplythat it didn't matter if Leighton had perjured himself, nothing should be doneto get Michael out of jail. There should be no mistrial or acquittal oranything of that nature because Michael was probably guilty of the crime forwhich he was incarcerated. I didn't pursue the matter further at that point.
Meanwhile, Littman offered to arrange an interview with Robert Booth Nichols andPeter Zokosky for me. In exchange for this, he wanted me to arrange aninterview with Tony Patterson and Raymond Lavas (Ted Gunderson's formerforensics expert) through Bobby Riconosciuto. Tony Pattersonhad allegedly served with Robert Booth Nichols in Vietnam, and Raymond Lavas hadaccess to Michael Riconosciuto's hidden computer tapes.
Both men were watching over Bobby Riconosciuto while Michaelwas in jail. I said I would do the best I could to arrange the interviews. Bobby was the only person communicating with these individuals and only she knewhow to contact them. I never mentioned to Littman that I had been communicatingwith Robert Nichols on the phone. I can't say what my reasoning was at thetime. Intuition, I suppose.
Bobby Riconosciuto reluctantly agreed to set up theinterviews with Patterson and Lavas, though she pointed out that neither mantrusted journalists. I naively assured her that Littman would be okay. It isnoteworthy that Littman had been communicating with Bobby and Michael forseveral months prior to my introduction to them, yet, they didn't completelytrust him at that stage of their relationship. When they learned of hisrelationship with Ben Kalka, they didn't trust him at all.
Elizabeth Riconosciuto's fifth birthday party was scheduledto be celebrated at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn on February 14, 1992 at 11a.m.. Reportedly, Patrick Moriarty and Marshall Riconosciuto had a financialinterest in the hotel and they were paying the bills.
Littman and I decided that would be a good weekend to confidentially interviewRobert Booth Nichols and Peter Zokosky in Los Angeles, and it would give Littmanthe opportunity to meet Bobby Riconosciuto facetoface. Wewould also squeeze the Patterson/Lavas interviews in during that time.
Michael Riconosciuto was cooperative about allowing his wifeto be interviewed by Littman because it would give the journalist a closeup viewof Michael's "family" in action. Tom Olmstead, Michael's lawyer, wasscheduled to attend the birthday party as was Patrick Moriarty and MarshallRiconosciuto. After the luncheon celebration, the children and those adults whowanted to tag along would go to Disneyland.
Michael Riconosciuto had dual motives for wanting Littman inattendance. Olmstead had been instructed to pressure Littman to reveal "who"had sent the incriminating 1983 "drug" transcript to the prosecutingattorney in Michael's trial - only Littman knew if it had been Ben Kalka orLittman himself. (Littman had obtained it originally from Peter Zokosky).
On Tuesday evening, February 11th, Littman confirmed a Thursday appointment withRobert Booth Nichols. However, he stressed that Nichols had insisted that themeeting be kept absolutely confidential. No one in media or MichaelRiconosciuto's circle was to know of the interview.
I agreed, but explained that I had already mentioned briefly to Michael that I "planned"to interview Nichols at some future date. Michael had said he understood theimportance of interviewing Nichols and he would cooperate. I even asked Michaelto notify Tony Patterson and Raymond Lavas, via Bobby, that Littman and I wouldbe interviewing them during our trip to Los Angeles.
Littman said that was alright, but I was to tell no one else associated withMichael. I noted to Jonathan that he might want to inform Nichols that I hadalready mentioned to Michael that I "intended" to interview Nichols atsome time in the future. Littman said leave it at that. No problem.
Littman spent the night at my home in Mariposa on Wednesdaynight. The following morning, on February 13th at 7 a.m., we departed for LosAngeles. Strangely, at the last moment, Littman decided to follow us to LosAngeles in his own car. I rode intermittently with Littman, then with myhusband, during the fivehour drive. At hour intervals, Littman pulled off thefreeway to report to Nichols - and to a police officer in San Francisco whom hedid not identify, but described as his "security."
At noon, we arrived at Nichols' Sherman Oaks apartment building. Littmanpunched in #68 and spoke briefly to Nichols, who buzzed the door open. AtNichols' apartment, #103, Littman pointed out the electronic security system onthe front door, then at the last moment, instructed my husband to wait in thevan. We owned a 1991 Chevrolet conversion, so he napped and watched televisionthe rest of the afternoon. Towards the end of the fivehour meeting, Nicholsinvited him up for coffee and cake.
Peter Zokosky and his wife (former Mayor of Indio), Robert Booth Nichols and hiswife, Ellen, were present inside the apartment. Littman had previously warnedme that the apartment was electronically wired to detect any listening devices Imight be wearing on my body. I said I had none.
Littman had also warned me that I would be seated on a couch next to a stuffedlion which had a tape recording device (bug) under its tail. Sure enough, whenI entered the apartment, I was seated on a white couch near the lion. A giantanaconda skin hung stretched across the wall. European and African relicsdecorated the apartment. It was instantly obvious that Nichols and his wifedidn't live in the apartment, it was a meeting place.
Nichols smoked cigarettes and as a result, kept the upstairs windows in theapartment open, allowing a cool February breeze to flow through the apartment. Nerves, and the cool air induced me to keep my light coat on during most of theinterview. At first, Peter Zokosky, a friendly, congenial man, did most of thetalking. As the conversation warmed up, Nichols entered intermittently, thentook over completely.
A formal gourmet luncheon was served of curried soup, salmon and turkey fingersandwiches, wine and homemade strawberry cake. Ellen Nichols was the perfecthostess, but rarely said a word.
At one point during lunch, Nichols instructed Ellen to get the camera and snap afront and side picture of me, which she carried out silently. There was noexplanation given for the picture. After lunch, Nichols often stood or sat atthe open window while he talked and smoked. It was cold and rainy, and Iwondered why he kept glancing down at my van. Littman frequently left the roomto attend to something in the back of the apartment. I was unable to determinewhat he was doing, but noticed that he took no notes and never once joined inthe conversation.
Nichols was aptly described in magazine articles as "Clark Gable withoutthe ears." But his mannerisms were intense, simultaneously controlled anddramatic. I intuitively sensed the violence in him, but only through his eyes. He studied me intently as I spoke, making every effort to throw me off balanceby continuously correcting me. He also would not speak while I wrote on mynotepad, stopping mid-sentence each time I put pen to paper.
It worked in some cases, but I finally rallied. I was in HIS apartment, withwomen present, though they were busy in the kitchen, and my husband was parkedoutside the apartment. I was certainly in no physical danger, so I gatheredmyself and bluntly asked the questions I had driven 350 miles to ask.
Referring to the U.S. currency and gold transfers into Swiss bank accounts,Nichols admitted that he was contracted by the government to "handle"the 42 Cobra helicopters which Michael had said were stored in Europe, thenshipped to Iraq via North Korea.
At first he would not say what he did with the helicopters, but then revealedthe entire operation. John Vanderwerker at Intersect Corporation inIrvine, California, had been the CIAfacilitator. It was a "classified" CIA operation, though Nicholswould not give the name of the White House official behind it. I assumed itwas Michael McManus, but didn't push it. Glenn Shockley had brought Nicholsinto the operation. At least I had verbal confirmation of the operation,and unknown to Nichols, I had the entire paper trail.
Regarding Danny Casolaro, Nichols and Zokosky both insisted thatDanny had been "murdered." Danny's book research had progressed to apoint where he was looking overseas for answers and Nichols had offered todirect him to certain connections that would have completed his investigation.
Nichols confirmed that he was privy to Danny's findings on a regular basis, butchose not to elaborate on the content of his last conversation with Danny.
I continued to press him for information on the "cause" of Danny'sdeath; what had he discovered that caused him to be murdered? Nichols respondeddefiantly that he knew why Danny died, but he said "no journalist orinvestigator had done enough work to be deserving of that information yet."
It was not until the end of the meeting, when we had established a tentativerapport, that Nichols offered to take ME to Europe, as he had Danny, to find theanswers to my investigation of the Octopus. But, he stressed it would be veryexpensive and I would be gone for several months. I remember the probing lookon his face as he made the offer. I had nodded slowly, stating I would give itsome thought. I wondered fleetingly if he was trying to recruit me into the CIA? Or create a new Manchurian Candidate?
Regarding the stolen PROMISE software, Nichols said he believed MichaelRiconosciuto had been contracted by the government to "derail"Bill Hamilton at Inslaw. According to Nichols, Michael DID have the PROMISsoftware codes. Allegedly, Peter Zokosky's "brother" sold copiesof the software to Israel. Zokosky nodded in agreement at that statement.
Nichols said Michael HAD to know he was going to be arrested for operating ameth lab, but he (Michael) thought the FBI would bail him out again. Someonenamed (Admiral) Al Renkin allegedly "covered Michael's drug act."
I never knew what that meant and didn't pursue it, as I wasn't there to learnabout Michael Riconosciuto.While we were on the subject of drugs, I took the opportunity to questionNichols's involvement. I lead in by describing the drug situation in Mariposa county, adding that the entire country seemed to be economicallydependent on the drug trade. Nichols nodded in full agreement, then noted thatEurope's economy was completely dependent on drug money. Without drugs, banksand whole countries would collapse financially.
We moved into another area of discussion. Peter Viedenieks was an associate ofEarl Brian, according to Nichols. Other names were tossed around such asSenator Terry Sanford, a family friend of Earl Brian. Sanford was Nichols' linkwith Earl Brian. And, noted Nichols, Viedenieks was associated with Earl Brianthrough Hadron Corporation.
Allegedly, all of these fellows had met at Nichols' "007" PlayaDel Ray condo at one time or another, including Viedenieks.
It is noteworthy that at the time of this meeting, neither Nichols or I couldhave foreseen the importance of this information. The issue of Viedenieks'connection with Earl Brian or Terry Sanford, or even Nichols himself, had notbeen raised publicly yet. At the time, I didn't place any particularsignificance on Nichols' relationship with Earl Brian or Peter Viedenieks, Ijust took the information at face value and wrote it in my notes.
Nichols reacted violently when I asked him if he had any business dealings withBrunswick Corporation in New Jersey. He jumped up from his chair by the windowand yelled, "Absolutely not!"
I quickly explained that I had looked up Sir Denis Kendall (the famous M16 WorldWar II British officer) in "Who's Who in America" and learned that hehad once been associated with Brunswick. Nichols said he did not know SirDenis Kendall. His eyes told me otherwise.
I noted that was strange since Michael Riconosciuto seemed toknow him well. Nichols and Zokosky exchanged glances. I further explained thatBobby Riconosciuto said she had been to Kendall's home on Doheny Drive inBeverly Hills with her children once. She had often called Kendall when she wastrying to locate Michael, and within hours of calling Kendall, Michael alwayscalled her back. Nichols and Zokosky seemed disturbed by that statement.
I didn't mention that Riconoscituo had stated Kendall was Nichols' supervisor(CIA "handler"), or that J.M., Ted Gunderson's researchpartner, had found a brochure in Ted's files advertising for Swedish nurses at amedical research complex in Mexico. The brochure contained both Gunderson'spicture and Sir Denis Kendall's.
I had obtained all of the documents pertaining to Nichols' current lawsuitagainst Thomas Gates of the Los Angeles FBI, his corporate activities and hisweapons permits. Nichols had been investigated by Gates for allegedly turningover sensitive information to organized crime figures in America and the "Yakuza"crime syndicate in Japan.
Nichols' corporation, Meridian International Logistics, Inc. (MIL), the parentcompany to Meridian Arms, had filed a lawsuit against Gates for contactingNichols' European and Japanese business associates.
As a result, not only were Nichols' weapons permits cancelled, but hisassociates were allegedly intimidated by the investigation, thus damagingNichols' ability to transact business.
I was curious about how far Nichols would take the lawsuit, and exactly what thenature of the research was that MIL fronted to the Japanese. I started out byasking Nichols if he had provided a "grant" to a Japanese facility forbiological research? Nichols said he had provided no grant to any Japanesefacility and attempted to change the subject.
Nichols was not evasive, but aggressively direct when he did not want to discusssomething. Michael Riconosciuto had once commented to me thatthe biological technology which Nichols was involved in was "Hitler's wetdream." According to Michael, who was uncharacteristically hesitant aboutdiscussing the subject, "biotechnology was the weapon of the future, makingall other weaponry obsolete."
In Michael's files in the desert, I had retreived a small cylindrical cannister,about six inches in length, with a cap on it. The metal cannister had not beenmarked, and instinctively, I had not opened it, but had placed it on a shelf inour empty guest house in Mariposa.
It was not until months later, after Michael learned I had copies of hisdocuments, that I had asked him what the cannister contained. Michael hadbecome disdraught, explaining that the cannister contained genetic material in ahybridoma base, a military concept, only to be used for military applications. Michael had stolen the cannister from a shipment at Wackenhut destined for KingFahd of Saudi Arabia and placed the sample in his files in the desert. (Proposals had also been underway with King Fahd to provide "security"for his palace).
His voice had been fraught with worry. He implored me to remove the cannisterfrom my property immediately, take it to a "class 4 facility" where itcould be disposed of. I was absolutely NOT to open the cannister as itcontained lethal toxins.
Later, at the meeting with Robert Booth Nichols, I again wondered why armsdealers such as Peter Zokosky and Robert Nichols would be interested in geneticresearch? Five years earlier, Zokosky and Wackenhut Corporation had attemptedto sell "biological warfare viruses" and vaccine kits to the U.S.government to be used against small countries bordering Albania or largecountries bordering the Soviet Union.
I did not openly confront Nichols at his apartment about the above documents,but asked him if he had sold or facilitated the research of specificbiotechnology to the Japanese? Nichols adamantly denied any involvement in anysuch research.
When I rephrased the question, and he realized I knew about the MIL agreements,he admitted that he had in fact facilitated the research of methodology andinduction of cytotoxic TLymphocytes through "five offshore [outofcountry]research institutes." But, he added that the research was "classified"by the sponsoring governments and "secret" and he could not discussit.
When I pressed for the names of the sponsoring governments, he clammed up. HadI known more about the technology at the time, I would have pointedly questionedhim about the properties of the virus, but in retrospect, my ignorance openeddoors that otherwise wouldn't have been opened.
I did, however, mention to Nichols and Zokosky that Michael Riconosciutohad allegedly worked on the same technology at Hercules Research in the early1980's, reportedly using fish for incubation purposes.
Zokosky responded, embarking upon a lengthy discourse on the processes by which "they"had incubated the virus in cow uterises and udders in biolabs twenty floorsbeneath the ground. But Nichols interjected, discontinuing the narrative. Itwas obvious that both men were becoming agitated, so I dropped the subject forthe time being.
Regarding Thomas Gates, Nichols expressed real anger and noted he would take thelawsuit against Gates as far as it would go. He said he didn't care if he wasawarded any money (he was sueing for $11 million), but he would ruin Tom Gates,no matter what it took.
A thought crossed my mind that he was about to say that he would kill him, butinstead, he sat silently glaring, waiting. I asked him how much the lawsuit hadcost him so far, and he said not a dime. Originally, Michael McManus hadadvised Nichols, but then the case was handled by John Rowell.
It was already apparent that Nichols was warming to the interview, in adisarming, contentious sort of way. We were reaching a common ground, anetherworld of danger and intrigue. The room became his stage, the people hisaudience. He never took his eyes from mine, making every effort to distract mefrom my notes.
Unquestionably, he was a "game" player. The more I entered the game,the better he liked it. It was a trade off, I gave him a little information, hegave me a little. But he gave as much as he took ...
I asked him about his relationship with MCA corporation. He said EugeneGiaquinto, President of MCA Home Entertainment Division, had resigned from hiscompany, MIL, after the FBI investigation was underway.
But Giaquinto was a smart man, noted Nichols. He had learned much from the man. Giaquinto drove an older car, as did Nichols. They hid their assets, livingmodestly when in the U.S., keeping a low profile. The FBI would "prove"nothing, said Nichols. He added that MCA Corporation was "going broke,"and the only division that was making a profit was the home entertainmentdivision, which Giaquinto headed.
I recalled privately the conversation in which Michael Riconosciutohad told R.J. that MCA was currently facilitating the largest leveraging scamever conceived of in this country. MCA was subsequently sold to the Japanese,but I had no idea what connection that had to the above referenced conversation.
Nichols continued to lead the conversation towards Riconosciuto. Nichols and Zokosky could not understand why Ted Gunderson testified forMichael at his trial in Washington state. At a previous dinner party atNichols' apartment in Sherman Oaks, Ted reportedly told the two men that Michaelhad loaned him (Gunderson) $60,000 for a joint business venture. Ted still owedMichael the money.
It is noteworthy that Ted also supplied Robert Booth Nichols an affidavit forHIS lawsuit against Thomas Gates.
Ellen Nichols had mentioned during lunch that Michael often buried secretdocuments and equipment. Obviously, they were trying to learn what documents Ihad acquired. I had not uncovered any "buried" documents, but hadobtained his private files from the trailer in the California desert. I did notreveal this to Nichols, assuming that Littman had kept my secret.
However, as the conversation progressed, I came to realize that Nichols did,indeed, know I had obtained Michael's files. One statement which Nichols saidin the presence of Jonathan Littman surprised me. Littman continued to leavethe room to attend to something in the back of the apartment. When he returned,I asked Nichols to repeat what he had just said. Nichols obliged by reiteratingthat "Michael Riconosciuto would kill me if he learnedthat I had obtained his private documents."
I asked him "why" he believed Michael would kill me over that? Nichols seemed to want confirmation of something I'd obtained, somethingspecific, but wouldn't define what it was and I had no intention of revealinganything to him at that point.
He randomly discussed the (coroner's grand jury) affidavit in which Riconosciutohad accused Phillip Arthur Thompson of killing Paul Morasca (Michael's partner)in San Francisco. Thompson had worked for the FBI under the code name of "Jason"in some capacity which Nichols would not define.
But, according to Nichols, it was Riconosciuto who hadtortured and killed Paul Morasca. Peter Zokosky corroborated Nichols' comment. Both men said the torture of Paul Morasca was Michael's "style" thatMichael had discussed torture techniques of that nature to Nichols prior toMorasca's death.
They added that "Jason," Phillip Arthur Thompson, was not so creativein his killing style. Thompson had allegedly killed many people in his career,but he chose to use a gun and get the job done quickly. Nichols also said atlunch, with Ellen listening, that he knew who killed Mary Quick. Ellen rolledher eyes at her husband and beseeched him to change the subject. I askedNichols to name the killer or at least give me a clue. Nichols said the killerof Mary Quick had been arrested and released. Obviously they were talking about"Jason," who HAD been arrested and released.
Nichols and Zokosky both agreed in a conversation between themselves thatMichael Riconosciuto had caused the death of other peoplealso. Nichols repeated at least three times to my face, with Zokosky andLittman nodding in agreement, that he believed Michael would kill me.
I privately wondered why Nichols was making such an issue of this? I wouldunderstand soon enough. Meanwhile, Nichols continued to press his point. Hesaid Michael was a patient man and would wait as long as necessary to accomplishthis. I did not respond, as I had become somewhat immuned to the threat bythen.
Littman had made similar statements on the drive up to Sherman Oaks. I simplydid not perceive Riconosciuto as a killer. Nevertheless, Iasked Nichols how Michael would kill me if he was in jail? Nichols said itwould be done by one of Michael's "drug flunkies." He saidRiconosciuto HAD worked for the government, and had been "rescued" bythe FBI for years. He added that Michael could get away with murder.
I was becoming unresponsive to the game, so I presume Nichols decided it wastime to "set the hook." It was not until two years later that Iunderstood the significance of this incident. At one point during ourconversation, and completely out of context with what we were discussing,Nichols played a video tape of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The southern wall of Nichols' apartment contained a sixfootwide screen on whichI watched a blownup (enlarged), slow motion "uncut" version of thefamous Zapruder film.
I watched what appeared to be the standard media version of the film, seen somany times in film clips over the years, but then Nichols slowed the camera evenmore, and on the sixfoot screen, I observed the driver of the limousine turn tohis right, first looking at Connolly, then at Kennedy. The driver's left handcame over his right shoulder, and he was holding a long barreled gun. Smoke anda bullet emerged from the gun, traveling ever so slowly across the screen intoKennedy's head, blowing brain tissue into the air as he fell back against theseat.
Stunned, I watched Jacqueline Kennedy open her mouth in horror as she glanced atthe driver, then try to climb over the back seat of the car.
Littman and Zokosky and I stared at the scene in silence, unable to believe whatwe were seeing. Nichols then changed the tape and showed what he described asthe "media" version of the Zapruder tape. In the media version, thedriver continued to drive, unflinching, as the shots rang out. Then the sceneswitched to the back part of the limousine.
At this point, Nichols stopped the frame and pointed with a stick at a tree inthe background behind the limousine. From the middle of the tree to the ground,there was no trunk, just air. The top part of the tree was growing in air!
I demanded that my husband be allowed to see the film. I felt I must have beenhypnotized. When he arrived, he viewed both films up close, in slow motion, andsaw the same thing. Nichols played both tapes backwards and forwards as oftenas we demanded, until the memory of it was burned forever into our minds.
I wondered if the video had been tampered with. I asked Nichols where he hadobtained the original "uncut" version? He would not say. I had noidea at that time that his F.I.D.C.O. partner, Clint Murchison, Jr.'s father hadhad instant access to the Zapruder film immediately after the assassination inDallas, Texas.
Nichols studied me for the longest time, then walked over to the window and lita cigarette. He finally commented that the CIA can cover up anythingit wants, even a president's murder. He wanted to show me the power of theOctopus. "Nothing is as it appears to be," he said.
Somehow, that statement rang true. He then noted that he'd read my first book,the one I had sent him, then handed me a book entitled, "The Search for theManchurian Candidate." He told me to read it, appraising me silently. Inwardly, I recalled a conversation with J.M., in which she related aconversation she'd had with Ted after a dinner engagement with Nichols. Nicholshad reportedly stated to Ted that he headed a 200man assassination team. Jackiehad been too frightened to elaborate on this conversation, but had pointed outthat Nichols once worked in the MKUltra (Manchurian Candidate) program duringthe Vietnam war. This program was part of the "Phoenix Project." Interestingly, numerous publications had mentioned that Earl Brian had alsoparticipated in the Phoenix Project during the war.
Nichols' sister was allegedly a professional hypnotherapist, and Nichols himselfwas reportedly trained in the art of hypnotism. According to Riconosciuto,they all called themselves "The Chosen Ones," wore skull andcrossbones rings, and shared a common interest, if you could call it that, inthe old German SS occultism, its tribal and inner circle rites.
As I was preparing to leave, Nichols pointed his finger at me and reminded me ofthe agreement I had made with him through Littman. I asked him what agreement? He said the agreement that I would tell noone about this meeting. I againassured him that I would mention it to noone. He said I had better not or Iwould end up like the rest ...
******
When we finally left Nichols' apartment around five p.m., I told Littman I didnot intend to accept any more collect calls from Michael Riconosciutoat the Tacoma jail. I might even wrap up the whole investigation at that point,because I had more than enough material for a story or a book.
Littman proceeded to issue a warning which I recorded in my notebook in the car. It read as follows: "Littman warned me today to watch out. Noone gets outof this alive. No one walks. If I cut them off, it would be very dangerous." I was completely numb at that point, and unresponsive to any further threats.We agreed to meet at 11:00 a.m. at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn in LaMirada the following day to attend Elizabeth Riconosciuto'sbirthday party. Tom Olmstead, Michael's lawyer, would be flying in for themeeting, Ted Gunderson and J.M. would be there, Patrick Moriarty would bepicking up Olmstead at the airport, Raymond Lavas would be there and possiblythe elusive Tony Patterson, if Bobby could arrange it. Also expected was JaniceWynogradsky, the Australian reporter who produced the news story for AustralianT.V.
I was exhausted and looked forward to a restful evening, but first I drove tothe nearest toy store and purchased some birthday presents for Elizabeth.
That evening, I mentally reviewed the day's events. Nichols and Littman wereundoubtedly screwing with my head. The doctored Zapruder tape gave themdeniability. The information I had obtained at the meeting may or may not havehad value, but I knew one thing, the deaths surrounding Riconosciutoand Nichols were real enough.
Behind the smoke and mirrors labyrnthe was a story, one they were workingvery hard to conceal. I felt sure the corporate and government connections werelittle more than "fronts" for large scale drug trafficking.
******
At 7:30 a.m. the following morning, Bobby Riconosciuto calledthe hotel where we were staying (the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn) and informedme that the luncheon meeting had been changed to a new location and JonathanLittman was not going to be allowed to attend.I explained that I had not heardfrom Jonathan, did not know where he was staying, and could not get in touchwith him to tell him about the change. Bobby and I argued about theinconvenience to Littman. I told her that Jonathan and I were not puppets to bemanipulated by she or Michael. Bobby argued back that Olmstead had not shown upat the airport, Ted and J.M were having a tiff, and she did not trust Littmanbecause of his relationship with Ben Kalka and Robert Booth Nichols.
She did not want her daughter's birthday turned into a "circus." Iagreed with that aspect of the meeting, however, Bobby still had not arranged aninterview with Raymond Lavas or Tony Patterson. Bobby argued that she did notthink Lavas or Patterson would talk to Littman. I pleaded with her to arrangethe appointments for Littman's sake, since he had driven from San Rafael forthat purpose. I explained to her that it was important that Littman be presentat the interviews with Lavas and Patterson because I was working on the Mariposastory with him and we had made an agreement.
Bobby asked me directly if I had interviewed Robert Booth Nichols? I said I hadnot. I felt it was really none of Bobby's business. I qualified that, however,by saying that I expected to interview Nichols at some time in the future. Bobby said she understood and would attempt to arrange the interviews with Lavasand Patterson for the following day, Sunday.
It is noteworthy that Littman wanted to interview Tony Patterson becausePatterson "claimed" to have been in Vietnam (Phoenix/MK-Ultra) withboth Earl Brian and Robert Booth Nichols. I doubted that. To my knowledge,Nichols had never served in the military.
Patterson had a rather provocative story to tell about Nichols. Allegedly,Nichols had smuggled several gold icons out of Vietnam into the U.S. He laterkilled the pilot so there would be no witnesses, and left Tony Pattersonstranded in Vietnam to be captured and tortured by the Viet Cong. Nichol'sactivities in Vietnam also allegedly included drug trafficking for the CIA,which both Bobby and Michael Riconosciutomaintained was still operational today. THAT sounded closer to the truth.
Bobby called me back and instructed me to arrange a dinner meeting with Littmanthat evening (Saturday) and she would show up to be interviewed, then if Littmanagreed to provide her with the name of the person who had sent the 1983 "drug"transcript to the prosecutor at Michael's trial, she would call Patterson andLavas for interviews on the following day.
I was becoming stressed at that point. The whole weekend was spinning out ofcontrol and I was caught in the middle. I noted to Bobby that I would wait forLittman to show up at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn and tell him the meetinghad been changed to a new location, but that he was not invited. I would thengive him the new meeting time 7:00 p.m. at the Belle Isles restaurant inAnaheim. Bobby agreed to that arrangement.
My husband and I waited until 11:30 a.m., but Littman never showed. He alsonever called to say he would be late. At 11:40 a.m., I left a message forLittman at the front desk apologizing for the sudden change in plans, and saidwe would meet him at the Belle Isles at 7:00 p.m..
Bobby had changed the luncheon to the hotel where she was staying with herchildren in order to be able to sign the tab on Patrick Moriarty's bill. JaniceWynogradsky was present, along with Ted Gunderson, J.M. and her two children. Neither Olmstead, Moriarty nor Marshall Riconosciuto showedup at the birthday party. Elizabeth opened her presents, we ate lunch and cakeand caravanned over to Disneyland. We had a good time with the kids until sixp.m.
At 6:30 p.m., Ted, J.M., Bobby and all the children returned to Bobby's hotelsuite. I drove directly to Belle Isles. At 7:00 p.m., neither Bobby norLittman had appeared for dinner. It turned out that Littman had left a messageat the restaurant that he was sorry he missed us at the La Mirada hotel, butthere was no mention of whether he would be joining us for dinner or not.
I called Sheri Littman, his wife, and she said Jonathan was on his way home. She did not know why.
Bobby Riconosciuto sat with Ted Gunderson and J.M. in herhotel suite and ate pizza. When I called her, she said Ted had detained her atthe hotel, she couldn't get away. My husband and I finished our dinner anddrove to San Diego to see my mother.
I never spoke to Bobby or Michael Riconosciuto again untilone week later when I learned Bobby had requested the return of Michael's eightboxes of documents. My husband had dropped me off at my mother's home andreturned to Mariposa. For days he had been receiving urgentmessages from Bobby requesting that I call her. He simply told her that I wastired and needed a rest.
Michael Riconosciuto called and asked him if we hadinterviewed Robert Booth Nichols? My husband said, "No."
When I returned home, I called Bobby and learned that Littman had toldMichael Riconosciuto all about the meeting withRobert Booth Nichols. Bobby wanted to know why I had lied to her about theNichols meeting? She explained that Littman had also told Michael that hehad dug through Michael's private documents at my home which I had obtained fromMichael's secret trailer in the desert. Bobby had never told Michael aboutthis because Michael had instructed her to stay away from the trailer.
I told Bobby that I did not believe Littman would do such a thing. I added thatif I HAD interviewed Nichols, and he requested confidentiality, I would keep myword to him. There was no reason to discuss such an interview with Bobby orMichael. Bobby accepted that.
However, to convince me that Littman had in fact told Michael about the contentsof the meeting, she recounted that Michael had told her that the meeting tookplace on Thursday, it lasted five hours, and I would not take my coat off duringthe entire meeting, which allegedly made Nichols nervous.
Bobby also stated that I had been seated in a location where I could be scannedfor electronic devices, and since I was not "bugged," Nichols couldnot understand why I didn't take my coat off.
I immediately hung up from Bobby and called Littman. There was no answer at hishome, so I called Robert Booth Nichols. Upon answering the phone, Nicholsimmediately accused me of "breaking my word to him." There was asinister edge to his voice. I explained to him that, to date, I had not spokento Michael Riconosciuto since two days prior to the ShermanOaks meeting on February 13th.
Nichols countered that Littman had called him and told him that "I"had immediately reported to Michael the entire contents of the meeting,because Michael knew all about it. His tone was accusing, attentive, but devoidof anger. Then silence, waiting. I was indeed caught in the tentacles of theOctopus, and I felt the weight of it at that moment.
I told Nichols that I would have Bobby Riconosciuto call himand repeat what she had said to me, that Littman had betrayed both Nichols andmyself.
Nichols laughed. "Why should I believe anything Bobby says? I don't wantto talk to her, and I don't want her to have my telephone number. Did you tellher where we met?" His voice was deeper, throatier, and I felt like afool. Why should he believe her? I was grasping at straws and I had noanswers. Why would Littman betray me, with so much at stake?
I said I would get to the bottom of this and let him know the results. Nicholssaid he was leaving for Australia the next day, would not be back for threemonths. (He had said the same words to Bill Hamilton when he was searching forDanny Casolaro on August 5th).
Nichols said he was VERY interested in hearing the results. "For my sake." He added that I should keep Peter Zokosky apprised of the results of myinquiry, then he hung up.
I called Jonathan Littman and asked him, "What's going on?" His voicewas withdrawn, cautious. "I don't know. What is going on?" Idecided to taperecord the conversation. My life was in danger as a result ofLittman's actions, and I needed a lifeline to save it.
I explained that I had been in San Diego visiting my mother, and when Ireturned, Bobby Riconosciuto related the details of myinterview with Nichols. "She said YOU told Michael everything."
Littman said, "Michael knew the truth."
"I haven't talked to Michael since before the interview with Nichols! Howdid he know about it?"
Littman's voice took on a slow, malignant tone. "What I'm saying is, youtold him beforehand, and you can't play games with people like Michael."
I was astonished. And somewhat flustered. But I wanted to give him everyopportunity to explain himself. "No. No. Something has happened. Something's wrong. Bobby just told me that YOU told Michael all about themeeting. And I told her I didn't believe that. I told her I DIDN'T have aninterview with Robert Booth Nichols ..."
Littman quickly responded, "You shouldn't lie to Michael ..."
I thought to myself, why should I have to report who I interview to Michael orBobby? It was none of their business. But instead, I said, "Bobby told meshe knew I interviewed Robert Booth Nichols on Thursday, for five hours, and Iwore my coat through the entire meeting. And she said, `That made Nicholsparanoid.' Now, how in the hell could she have known that?"Littmananswered in an eery, robotic voice, "I want to tell you something ..."
I interrupted, " ... And how did she know that I allowed you to look atMichael's documents, Jon?"
Littman began again, "She didn't. She only knows you have them ..."
Littman was being evasive, outright lying. I was becoming increasinglyfrustrated. I hated being reduced to that level of conversation. But so muchdepended on it. "John, Bobby said Michael called her. Michael NEVER knewI had those boxes until YOU told him. Bobby said YOU revealed to him that youhad seen the documents, seen the diary, seen everything."
I had withheld portions of the diary from Littman, amongst other things. Icouldn't understand why he would have alarmed Michael about the diary, or liedabout having it. Michael had risked his life at Wackenhut to obtain the onlycopy, broken into Dr. John Nichols' office to retreive it, and fled toWashington state to begin a new life. He had thought it was secure in thedesert. Now I had it. And Michael knew Bobby and I had kept the secret fromhim. And Littman had betrayed us both.
I continued ... "How would Michael have known that I didn't take my coatoff in the meeting with Nichols? Nobody knew that except you, Jon."
Littman stayed cool as ice. "Let me get one thing straight with you. Igave you the conditions under which you were to meet with Nichols ..."
"Absolutely."
" ... And you betrayed those conditions by telling Michael that we weregoing to interview Nichols. And that put all of us in an awkward position ..."
I was astonished at how twisted the whole situation had become. I stammered, "Jonathan,I didn't know I HAD an appointment with Nichols at the time I told Michael that. I simply told him I PLANNED to interview him at sometime in the future. Ihaven't spoken with Michael since the interview with Nichols? But YOU have ..."
Littman continued his train of thought, disregarding what I had said. "Onceyou told Michael you planned to interview Nichols, then you had to tell himeverything. You had to tell the truth."
I asked pointedly, "Did YOU tell him the truth?"
Perversely, he confessed, "I told him the truth exactly. Because heknew we'd been there. And I'm not going to lie to Michael. He knew we'd beenthere ..."
I interjected, "But you gave your word to Robert Booth Nichols that youwould never divulge the contents of the meeting to anyone. How could you dothat?"
Littman attempted to change the subject, to put me on the defensive. "YOUare now the fly in the spider's trap ... You gotta be staight with all thesepeople. With Michael, with Zokosky, with Nichols, these people can figure thesethings out. They're not dumb people."
"John, I've been straight with all of them. Every one of them. I havenever betrayed any of them, other than to provide you, as a journalist, withsome documents you requested ..."
He interrupted me, still speaking meticulously, ever so slowly. "Youcannot fool people like Michael and Bobby and Ted Gunderson. Michael knew themeeting was going to take place. And it's not a good idea to go back and tellhim a story that something didn't happen when it did happen."
There was a monotonous singsong to his voice. He sounded like a tape recording.I was incredulous. Why was I defending myself to this man? I tried once again. "Michael doesn't control my life. I didn't tell him the meeting never tookplace. I NEVER SPOKE TO MICHAEL AFTER THE MEETING WITH NICHOLS! I didn't lieto him because I haven't spoken with him. I was in San Diego. I stillhaven't spoken to Michael. Why can't you understand that?" "Well,you're in the middle of it, because you're involved with Bobby and ..."
" ... Well, I'm not. That's the point, I'm not. It's a dangerous game andI want no part of it. I made that very clear with Bobby today when I spoke withher, which is the first time I've spoken with her since the meeting in ShermanOaks."
" ... You told Michael that you were going to have a meeting with ..."
I was determined to get a confession from Littman. My life might depend on it. "Jonathan! Jonathan! You stood in that room with Robert BoothNichols, and you heard him say aloud in front of both us, that if Michael everfound out what I have [the documents], he would kill me. I would be dead. Doyou remember when he said that?"
"Sure."
" ... Yet you told Michael you had come to my home and seen his documentsfrom the desert? Why?"
Littman repeated over and over the same words. "You lied to Michael. Thatwas very stupid ..."
I wondered if he was intoxicated. I cut in, "You set me up. You calledNichols immediately after YOU told Michael about the meeting. Then you calledNichols and told him that "I" told Michael about the meeting. Now,Nichols just told me that today. Why did you do that, Jonathan?"
Jonathan did not deny setting me up, but stammered lamely, "I ... I did notappreciate your phone call to Nichols earlier today. You have placed me in anawkward position with Zokosky and Nichols ..."
So, Nichols had informed Littman of my phone call! Had he accused Littman ofbetraying him to Michael? I would probably never know the answer to that. Iresponded, "I called Nichols and asked him what was going on? How in theworld could this have come about? I told Nichols what Bobby had said."
Littman was outraged that I had called Nichols and conveyed what Bobby had said. He was also outraged that Bobby had called me and confronted me about theNichols meeting. Obviously THIS had not been in the scheme of things. Littman had obviously NOT expected Bobby to confront me.
After the Los Angeles fiasco, I had been fed up with her treatment of Littmanand was cooling off in San Diego for a week. I had told Littman that Iwouldn't be speaking with either Bobby or Michael again. Littman hadunderestimated Bobby's determination to speak to me, and my assertiveness incalling Nichols. His plan had backfired. Perhaps he had expected me to bedead before I had an opportunity to talk to anyone?
I was immediately alarmed about the synopsis and backup documents I had turnedover to Littman on the Mariposa drug lab. It had included thenames of the Indians who had confided in me. We had planned to do a storytogether for the San Francisco Chronicle. "John, can I ask you one morequestion? Did you ever send the Mariposa information to the Chronicle?"
He answered curtly, "No."
"You asked me to send it to you. Why didn't you send it to the Chronicle? Why did you even ask for it?"
Jonathan hissed at me. "You lied to Riconosciuto's wife,or your husband did [regarding the Nichols meeting], and as a consequence ofthat, you're in hot water. I warned you about this whole thing ..."
"I'm in hot water because YOU betrayed me to Michael," I countered.
Again he repeated, "I told him EXACTLY what happened. You're a fool,and you better start getting smart ... I think you should think twice aboutcontinuing with this ..."
The Indians who had turned in the drug lab were at risk. Jonathan had theirnames, including detailed information on two deputies implicated in growingmarijuana and distributing methamphetamine on the Indian reservation in Mariposa. I wanted my paperwork back.
"Jonathan, there's something I need to know right now. This is important. You have information on Mariposa ..."
Jonathan hung up. I paced the floor of my office for a moment, then called himback. He didn't answer, but I knew he was standing by the phone while I talkedinto his answering machine. I informed him that I intended to documenteverything that had transpired at the Nichols meeting, including his betrayal ofme to both Nichols and Riconosciuto, and that he hadattempted to set me up to be killed by one or both of these men.
I said I was taking the report to the nearest U.S. Attorney and sending a copyto his editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. And, I wanted my Mariposapaperwork returned.
I then called Robert Booth Nichols, but there was no answer at his home, so Icalled Peter Zokosky. Zokosky, as always, was friendly and congenial, andconfirmed that Nichols was very interested in the results of my inquiry. Irecounted the conversation I'd had with Littman, in which he had confessed hisbetrayal, and offered proof of the conversation.
Zokosky said that would be fine and he would pass the information along toNichols. On Sunday, February 23rd, I again talked to Bobby Riconosciuto. We again discussed what Littman had done and why he had attempted to convinceNichols that I had betrayed him [Nichols] to Riconosciuto.
Bobby and I both acknowledged that Michael had knowledge of Nichols'government and drug activities over a twentyyear time span. Unquestionably,Nichols wanted to discredit Michael in any way he could ... or deter anyone fromobtaining Michael's information.
Suddenly, Bobby said she believed I was being "set up for a hit." Isaid I thought Michael was being set up with Robert Booth Nichols.
Someone, whoever was controlling Littman, was trying to create friction betweenMichael and Nichols, and attempting to use me to do it. My friendship withBobby had unexpectedly thrown a monkeywrench into their plans.
Bobby confided that Michael had taperecorded the conversation in which Littmanhad reported the contents of the Nichols meeting. Michael had called a "friend,"and had the friend patch Michael through to Littman. The conversation had thenbeen monitored and tape recorded by the third party (obviously Ted Gunderson whoperformed this functon often). Bobby agreed to send me a copy of thetaperecording.
I asked her why Littman would try to turn both Nichols and Michael against me. Professional jealousy? Bobby said, "No, the same thing happened to DannyCasolaro."
Littman had been talking to Danny Casolaro regularly, as well asNichols and Riconosciuto at the time of Danny's death. Yet,Littman had never written a single word about Danny -- or Robert Booth Nichols!!
We both agreed that someone was being set up, but Bobby insisted that it was me. She said she needed to check something out and she would call me back. Shortlythereafter, Bobby called back and breathlessly stated she had confirmed that Iwas about to die. She would not say who she had talked to, but intuitively, Ifelt it was Ted Gunderson.
Bobby said if I died, Michael would be held responsible. I had received collectcalls daily from him for three months, then cut off all communication with himafter meeting with Nichols. I had obtained ALL of Michael's documents in thedesert without his knowledge, until recently. I held in my possession the bankcards which Paul Morasca and Mary Quick had died for.
It was a perfect set up, noted Bobby. Everyone, including my own husband, wouldbelieve Michael had contracted my death. Inwardly, I recalled the numerousstatements by Nichols and Littman and Zokosky that "Michael would kill me."
Undoubtedly, they had expected me to repeat those statements to others, perhapsother reporters, or friends, or relatives. Who, in turn, would have repeated itto the police "after my death."
In fact, I hadn't repeated it to anyone, but it WAS scattered throughout mynotes. Bobby advised me to get out of the house immediately, then call the FBI,the U.S. Attorney, the police or anyone else I could think of immediately. "They'regoing to kill you, if you don't RUN!," she yelled.
She said she was going to hang up, and when she called back, she didn't want meto be in the house. I became somewhat alarmed because of the various deathssurrounding Michael Riconosciuto. Regardless whether anyonebelieved him or not, the deaths were NOT make-believe. To name just a few: Mary Quick; Paul Morasca, Michael's former partner; Michael May who had visitedRiconosciuto in jail two weeks before his death; Dennis Eismann, a lawyerMichael tried to hire; and of course, Danny Casolaro who hadbeen introduced to the Octopus through Michael Riconosciuto. There were otherswith less direct connections.
Just three months after Danny's death, I had been approached by Riconosciuto,and the game of Dungeons and Dragons had begun again, this time with a newplayer. It seemed as if Nichols and Michael and Ted, and others, played a reallife game, and when one of the players got "accidented" or "suicided"(as Ted called it), they simply recruited new players. Oddly, Michael had oncesaid that anyone could leave "the game" by simply dropping out whilethey were still alive. Once it was known they had dropped out, they were leftalone - if they kept their mouths shut.
Michael had used journalists to gather information he needed to stay abreast ofthe game. It was a subtle form of blackmail he used on Nichols and Ted and,indeed, the government whom he had worked for. I had once asked him why "they"didn't just kill him. He had answered that they didn't want to kill him. Theywanted his technology. The FMC deal was, in fact, still on hold. The deathsaround him were "punishment" for his indiscretions, and to keep a lidon their biological warfare, hightech weaponry, and largescale heroin andcocaine operations worldwide.But who would believe it all? There were hundredsof deadend gopher trails ... dried up corporations, discredited witnesses, deadbodies. Nichols had said only days before, in Littman's presence, that my deathwould be brought about by one of Michael's "drug flunkies." Who wouldbelieve otherwise?
Littman had seemed adamant, even outraged, that I HADN'T reported the contentsof the Nichols meeting to Riconosciuto. Why? When it wasLittman who originally warned me not to? When I didn't, Littman reported ithimself.
Somehow, the success of the scheme had hinged upon Riconosciutohaving knowledge of the meeting. I had unexpectedly kept my word to Nichols. Of course I had. My life depended on it. And, why had Nichols made a point ofshowing me the Zapruder film? What possible significance could that have on myinvestigation?
(Two years later, after speaking with Dick Russell, author of "The Man WhoKnew Too Much," a 17year investigation of the Kennedy assassination, andGarby Leon at Silver Pictures, we theorized that the film had been shown toprovide Nichols with "deniability." If I had mentioned the showingof the film to anyone in media, and placed any credibility on it, it would haveinvalidated everything else that took place at that meeting.)
The phone rang again, and it was Bobby Riconosciuto. She waseven more agitated than before - and furious that I was still in the house. Iassured her that I was leaving and hung up. I called Ray Jenkinsand Roger Imbrogno and asked them to come to my home in Mariposa. Ray was a former Chief of Police of Merced College and a good friend. Hiscompanion, Roger, was in the State Guard with him. They arrived 45 minuteslater carrying military rifles and a bulletproof vest.
I sat at my computer and documented the whole event, entitled, "Vortex." It was a 17page diary of sorts which began as follows: "The following isa detailed account of an investigation which I began on December 1, 1991 andcontinue to work on intermittently as time allows. In all my years as aninvestigator and journalist, I have never encountered anything as bizarre or asalarming as this story. The purpose of this diary is to document theseoccurrances for my own safety ..."
I did not send the report to the U.S. Attorney as I had threatened to do. Nordid I send it to Littman's editor, Michael Yamamoto, at the San FranciscoChronicle, though I should have. I simply kept it and sent a copy to R.J.,where I'm sure it disappeared, as always, down the big, black hole.
At that point in time, my sense of reality was diminishing. I couldn't tell ifI was overreacting to Bobby Riconosciuto's warning, or if mylack of experience might cause my death by staying at home. Ultimately, Idecided to disappear for a while.
I drove to Fresno to stay with a friend, who subsequently accompanied me toGalveston, Texas where we stayed with her mother for three months. Walking thebeaches of Galveston, I found some measure of balance within myself, andreturned home in June, rested and ready to resume my life. For several monthsafter that, I had no contact with any of the principles in my investigationuntil October, 1992.
CHAPTER 13
Sometime in midOctober, at the offices of the Mariposa Guide, Ireceived a hurried phone call from Dave Massey, standing in the lobby outsidethe Washington D.C. offices of ABC's "20/20" news bureau. I had askedMassey to pick up key documents at the offices of producer Don Thrasher at "20/20"who had been holding them there as a safety precaution for me. ("20/20"had aired an indepth piece on the corruption in Mariposa County and I haddeveloped a friendship with Thrasher at that time).
After Massey emerged from Thrasher's office building, he'd met with John Cohen,investigator for the House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw. They talked for a fewminutes, then Cohen asked Massey if he would turn over my documents to him?Massey excused himself and hurriedly called me at my office in Mariposa. I instructed him NOT to hand over the documents. Most of them were myoriginals and I had no copies. (Thrasher had flown into California to pick thedocuments up, but we hadn't had time to make copies).
However, I mentioned to Massey that he was welcome to give Cohen my telephonenumber if he wished. Shortly thereafter, Cohen called me at my home and we hadnumerous conversations during the next several weeks. It was my understandingthat he was the lead investigator in the House Judiciary Committee's threeyearinvestigation of the Inslaw stolen software. The final Investigative Report,dated September 10, 1992, titled "The Inslaw Affair," had already beenpublished and I wondered why he bothered to call me.
After much coaxing, I finally agreed to send him some sort of an affidavit. Iwas working as a reporter for the local newspaper and didn't have time to puttogether a detailed report, so I simply attached a notarized cover sheet to "Vortex"and mailed it off to him.
On October 28, 1992, Cohen called back. He was very excited about Vortex. "There'ssome great information here," he observed. "You did a very goodinvestigative job, I have to commend you on that. I realize it's only afraction of everything you have. What you have done, you have put thepieces of the whole thing together. Little bits and pieces of things that Ihave known about, that I had theorized about, you have found the answers tothose specific questions."I explained to Cohen that I planned to publish abook on the subject and his professional opinion was valuable to me.
He added, "You've done some good investigative work here. It puts me in aposition to say, `Yeah, this stuff is good, and this is some stuff you may wantto get out.' In fact, I can put myself out as being available to these mediapeople to be an inside source, for background only, which would also addcredibility to your project."
Cohen hesitated, seemingly uncomfortable with what he was about to say. He drewa deep breath, then proceeded. "You are actually a key witness to thisthing now. And you might want to consider talking to a couple of thehonorable law enforcement people that are still working on this. I do knowthere are currently some FBI investigations that are in place on this ..."
Cohen hesitated again, gathering his thoughts. " ... There has beencoordination on this." He waited for a response, a signal that Iunderstood what he was trying to say. I said I understood.
"It's been unofficial, but there has been coordination. So, I'd like toknow whether ... maybe it would even keep you out of the limelight, whether youwould mind, as long as I talk about it and clear it with you first ..."
Cohen was leading up to something, but having trouble getting to the point. "... There is a certain sharing of information. Some of the leads and some ofthe stuff [in Vortex] (pause) ... Because I'll tell you, one of the biggest hits(pause) ...I always felt that there was a narcotics connection in this ..."
I laughed aloud. Cohen continued ... "regarding internationalnarcotics distribution. And I've sort of made my expertise in my years inlaw enforcement, international narcoterrorism, the weaponsdope connections inthe intelligence agencies ..."
I could only say, "Yes, yes, yes."
" ... And when I was in Los Angeles I did a lot of undercover work withColumbians, where I worked international narcotics conspiracies with DEA and FBIand, being a local police officer, I didn't really get caught up in theirsystems, I just made some great contacts in these agencies. But I also learnedquite a bit about Southeast Asian heroin and the rise of the Medellin Cartelsand the other Cartels in Latin America."
"Yes." By then, I knew Cohen had grasped the significance of theinformation Michael Riconosciutohad attempted to trade to the FBI, as well as Danny Casolaro'sfatal inquiry about Mike Abbell of the DOJ and his connection to GilbertRodriguez and Jose Londono of the Cali Cartel.
Cohen continued ... "And I also ran into quite a few law enforcementprofessionals who were pretty irritated because of the intelligence agency, drugdealer connection."
"Yes. Right."
"Well, the thing that is interesting is, one of the most interestingthings in the whole report, was the article on The Company."
"Yes."
" ... Because that immediately answered, or confirmed, what mysuspicions had been. And I know the exact, right channel to push to getthis thing hooked up. And he's a bigtime ... (pause) See this is a very goodtime for people like us, who are out for purposes of good, to ...(pause) Yousee, right now the FBI is in a war with the Department of Justice. And wouldlike nothing better than to have an investigation that they can discredit theDepartment of Justice with. So, the time is ripe to feed this stuff to theright people."
I agreed that the drug operations needed to be cleaned up, because the drugswere filtering into the smaller communities. But, thinking of Mariposa,I added that there were law enforcement people involved in the drug trade.
Cohen agreed. "I'm very careful with who I deal with. And I think whenthese people contact you, you'll be somewhat surprised."
Reluctantly, I said, "Ok, I will work with them."
Cohen concluded by saying, "You said some real interesting things. Ilike the section where you said `Bob Nichols runs Glen Shockley, Glen Shockleyruns Jose Londono.' Now that corroborates some information that I got in thepast which talked about one of the reasons PROMISE was stolen. You see,I've had a side theory about another reason why PROMISE was taken. And it wasthat PROMISE could also be modified to track money laundering.."
"Oh, absolutely."
"... And it could also be used as an active information gathering, or anactive moving software program that can go into other data bases. And it couldbe modified to control hundreds of accounts and move money through theinternational banking system."
I interjected, "This is what Michael Riconosciuto wastrying to trade to the FBI and to FinCen ..."
Cohen added, "What a lot of people don't realize is that there are twointernational banking systems. There's CHIPS and SWIFT. And the word SwiftChips has been spread out throughout this whole [investigation]. And a lot ofpeople don't realize what that meant. Well, Swift Chips is a referral to thosetwo clearing house systems. The clearing house interbank payment system andthen the European counterpart, Swift. And they do $2 billion dollars worth ofbanking transactions a day."
"Yes ..."
" ... And if one was able to move accounts through there, you could movemoney around the world ..."
******
In a subsequent conversation with Cohen he asked me how I had obtained thedocument in which Ted Gunderson had mentioned their "drug/armsoperation?" (See Page 60)
I explained that I had found it in Michael Riconosciuto'ssecret files in the desert.
Cohen remarked, "That's a great document."